By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

When Jim Johnson became the treasurer for John Knox Presbyterian Church in the late 1990s, he didn’t realize that managing the books for the food bank the church operated was part of the duties. But, it was okay by him.

“I couldn’t work at the food bank because I was still employed full-time, but I wanted to be involved,” Johnson said.

And, he stayed involved, too. Johnson managed the food bank’s accounts through a name change to the Keizer Community Food Bank and right up until the day the operation became its own non-profit in 2012. Johnson retired from the workforce in early 2017 and, since March, he’s been a regular fixture at the food bank as a volunteer. His time in that role caught the eye of Rev. Curt McCormack, the food bank president.

“He never stands around waiting for someone to tell him what to do. That’s the kind of guy you want as a manager because you never ask a volunteer or employee to do something you wouldn’t do yourself,” McCormack said.

This fall, Johnson was named as the food bank’s operations manager.

“My job is to manage the churches that volunteer and the incoming and outgoing food, and making sure the set-up and tear-down happens,” Johnson said.

Since its days as a missionary project of one church, the food bank has grown to encompass congregations from five churches: Clearlake United Methodist, Keizer Christian, John Knox Presbyterian, and Faith Lutheran. The food bank has also expanded services opening its doors to clients twice a week, instead of once. Part of Johnson’s job is simply making sure all hands are on deck when the doors are open. And he could use some extra hands.

Jim Johnson

“We need 10-12 to run every session on Monday nights and Thurssday mornings,” Johnson said. “It would sure be nice to have people come and jump on the bandwagon one day a month or one day a week.”

In addition to helping hand out food or assist clients to their vehicles, volunteers are also needed for food deliveries from the Marion-Polk Food Share on Wednesdays from noon to 2 p.m.

Those interested can contact Johnson at 503-931-7612.

The food bank offers supplemental food boxes packed with staples like bread and canned meat as well as bulk items likes beans and cereals. Contents of the box vary from week to week depending on what is being donated locally. While the boxes are not intended to be the sole source of food for clients, the boxes might help a family get through several days.

To help provide core foods and extras that not every food bank supplies, McCormack has turned his focus to financial contributions over canned and boxed foods.

“If we get a can of soup, we give away a can of soup. If we get $1, we can make it work three times,” McCormack said.

Through a partnership with the Marion Polk Food Share, the food bank pays about .30 cents on the dollar for items bought in bulk.

The Keizer Community Food Bank was also recently approved for bulk purchases through Dollar Tree. While items still cost $1, it means a bigger bang for those 100 pennies.

“We can buy a 62-ounce container of laundry detergent for a buck. We’ve also purchased pet food in 16 ounce boxes that will get a family through a few days,” McCormack said. Such items are rarely donated through other means and can take some of the stress off a struggling family.

For more information about the Keizer Community Food Bank, connect with their Facebook page.