Community Services Consortium

Serving Linn, Benton, and Lincoln counties in Oregon. Helping people. Changing lives.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Community Services Consortium Puts Volunteers in Motion

On any given Wednesday at CSC’s Linn Benton Food Share warehouse in Tangent, you will arrive to a packed parking lot. Road-worn pickups overloaded with farm-fresh produce, boxed food and canned food creak through the gravel, squeezing into one of the few available parking spots. The trucks are greeted by gleaners with pallet movers, who shuttle the food into the warehouse.

Gleaners are volunteers who drive thousands of miles each year collecting food from farms and supermarkets that would otherwise be thrown away (they even collect pet food). In addition to the thousands of miles they put on their vehicles, they also put in thousands of hours of time repacking and distributing  food to the hungry.

Inside the warehouse, operations run like a well-oiled machine. Gleaners huddle and buzz around the various food processing stations. On this particular day, thousands of pounds of cauliflower are being repacked into family-sized portions.

In one area, the cauliflower is broken down into florets. In another area, it is scooped and bagged. In another area, the bags are sealed. The assembly line moves at a dizzying pace. Gleaners dart in and out of the work area, taking a quick break and saying hello to friends.

For Paul Swanson, this is old hat. Paul is a staple at the Wednesday repacks, not having missed one in nearly six years. He also volunteers on Mondays.

“I just like to help people and stay busy,” said the former timber worker, who has lived in Oregon for almost 80 years. 

A number of volunteer groups help with warehouse operations throughout the year. This week, children from Hoover Elementary School in Corvallis helped to repack vegetables. Members of Oregon State’s Greek community also stopped by to lend a hand as part of a day of service in conjunction with Iron Brawl, an annual Greek philanthropy event. They unloaded and cleaned out trucks, boxed food, and even mowed the lawn.

“We all just want to give back to families in the community, and enjoy working to fight against hunger,” said Roan McQuillen, a member of Sigma Kappa sorority.

According to Independent Sector, a nonprofit leadership and advocacy organization, that work has a value. An Oregon volunteer’s time is worth $19.33 per hour. For the 3,159 volunteers that invested 14,232 hours at LBFS last year, that equates to $275,104, the equivalent of  4.1 million pounds of food on the tables of Linn and Benton county families in need. And that’s not even counting the work of the gleaners.

“It’s great to see families volunteer together. We have volunteers who started coming out to the warehouse as children, and now they are bringing their own families. Regardless of the task, our volunteers dive in with enthusiasm. Food Share volunteers are very committed - we have volunteers who have never missed a Monthly Community Open House and we have volunteers who have worked with us every year during the Annual Postal Carriers’ Food Drive. Even though we have a very small staff, we can order bulk food with confidence because we know that an army of volunteers will be on hand to repackage it into family-sized portions,” said Susan James, CSC Gleaning and Volunteer Programs Coordinator. 

Just down the road in Corvallis, three CSC youth crews are putting in a day of service at the Corvallis Environmental Center’s Starker Arts Garden for Education. The  CSC YouthBuild, Natural Resource Youth Conservation, and Youth Garden crews came from Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties to put the jobs skills they have learned to use at the one-acre community garden.

The crews built additional shed space, constructed a roof for a chicken coop, harvested winter kale, mulched multiple beds, turned some imposing compost piles, dug up and replanted perennials, assembled and varnished garden plot signs, and mowed and weedwhacked the during a five-hour work party. 

Corvallis Environmental Center Garden Manager Deanna Lloyd stated “it would have taken us weeks to accomplish what the youth crews did in one day. SAGE and our community really benefited from all the hard work that the youth crews put in.”

Volunteers have also enabled CSC to host large fundraising events, such as the annual Barrel to Keg Relay. The race spans from Philomath to Newport, and last year 115 volunteers, including the Lincoln County Emergency Radio Operators and  Newport Police Volunteers, helped to keep things in motion, doing everything from acting as course marshals to setting up and breaking down the course to keeping the relay and traffic exchanges safe and clear for runners.

In the spirit of National Volunteer Week, we give these dedicated volunteers a hearty and much-deserved thank you for everything that they do to help us fight poverty and change lives in our community!

Linn Benton Food Share hosts a Community Monthly Open House on the last Thursday of each month that is open to walk-in volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with CSC, or have a group that is interested in volunteering at the Open House or at any other time, please contact Susan James at

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Youth Natural Resource Crews Featured in Newport News-Times Article

CSC's Youth Natural Resource Crews were featured in a March 27 article published by the Newport News-Times. The article outlined some of the crew's community service projects, where they learn both about both conservation science as well as practical job skills while continuing their educations.

The article can be accessed here:

Garden Gnome Run Less Than Two Weeks Away!

In just a couple of short weeks, Garden Gnome Run participants will be pounding the pavement to benefit the CSC Youth House Gardens!

The 1K Run/Walk, 5K Run/Walk and 10K Run is coming up on Sunday, May 5. The flat, paved course starts at the corner of SW 2nd St. and SW Western Blvd., and follows the bike path in Southwest Corvallis through Avery and Starker Arts parks.

All ages are welcome. Registration fees for the 1K Run/Walk are $20.00, and the 5k Run/Walk and 10k Run are $30.00. Use promotion code ggr2013 to receive $5 off online registration.

All entrants receive a tomato plant for their garden and a short-sleeve shirt (tech shirt for adult sizes and cotton t-shirt for youth sizes).

All proceeds go towards the CSC Youth House Gardens program. Every season, four to ten youth who are enrolled in our federal workforce program are responsible for caring for 40 raised beds, without the use of herbicides or pesticides. Our mission is to encourage learning, entrepreneurship and work readiness in Benton County youth and to grow and locally-distribute responsibly-raised produce.For registration, sponsorship, and other information about the Garden Gnome Run, visit

For more information about the CSC Youth Garden, visit or check out our Facebook page at

Welcome to CSC's blog and e-newsletter!

These communications tools can be used to make announcements, acknowledge donors and volunteers, post videos and slideshows–whatever we want to share with our online community.

There are 3 ways to deliver info to stakeholders:

  1. The blog itself, which can be linked to our current website
  2. Email news blasts (blog articles sent via email as eNewsletters)
  3. RSS Feed (subscribers read in Google Reader or other feed reader, can also send posts to Facebook and Twitter)
We're excited about these communication tools and look forward to both your input and feedback for continuing improvement and positive information-sharing.

If you have agency/program information you'd like posted on this blog, please send full text and/or photos and videos, ideas, or suggestions to Janet Hessel and she will take the next steps.