JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. — ACCESS is in need of more volunteers as the effects from the COVID-19 pandemic linger and the cost of food rises.
ACCESS provides food, shelter and other necessities to people in need throughout Jackson County. As people just start to get over the obstacles from the pandemic, recent inflation trends are contributing to an increased need for help.
“After the pandemic hit, we definitely saw an increase in food need. But we’re really starting to see that now as well,” said Marcee Champion, the food programs director at ACCESS. “We’re seeing gas prices go up and so we’ve seen a pretty good increase in our pantries recently — about a 38% increase in need.”
As a response to that 38% increase, ACCESS has opened more food pantries throughout Jackson County. But with more pantries, comes the need for more volunteers.
“Every pantry is run by volunteers,” said Champion. “We are happy to have anyone who wants to come help us out.”
Benji Fargason has been a volunteer at ACCESS since January. He said that due to the pandemic, he’s noticed an increased need for volunteers.
“I think in a lot of cases, organizations got behind and they’re trying to ramp back up and get back to full speed these days,” said Fargason. “In terms of volunteering, there can never be enough.”
Thursday, students from the Ruch Community Outdoor School were able to spend their morning volunteering at ACCESS. They helped pack up bags full of snacks for Jackson County students in need to take home over the weekend. The students also helped load boxes with produce that will eventually make it out to ACCESS food pantries.
“The bags go out to people who don’t have that much support in this world and who are having a hard time. We’re here to lift them,” said Jadeon Fernandez, a 7th grader at Ruch Community Outdoor School.
Charlotte Schaffer, a 6th grader at Ruch Community Outdoor School, said she recommends other kids her age get involved with the community through volunteer work.
“It makes you feel like you’re doing something good for our community,” she said. “It makes you feel good in the end.”
To sign up to volunteer at ACCESS, visit accesshelps.org/volunteer.