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Guest Article: Community Cycling Center food delivery program ramps up to meet demands

Posted by on July 15th, 2020 at 12:27 pm

(NOTE: Written by Community Cycling Center Cesar Chavez Safe Routes to School Coordinator William Francis.)

Out on delivery in the New Columbia neighborhood in north Portland.
(Photos: Community Cycling Center)

The operation now serves 175 families each week.

Now in our third month of using bikes to respond to the coronavirus crisis, the Community Cycling Center (CCC) and a team of volunteers continue to hold it down with weekly food deliveries to New Columbia in north Portland and the Cully neighborhood in northeast. Between the two sites, two teams of about seven CCC employees and volunteers are delivering about 175 doorstep packages of food each week for families who would otherwise be waiting in line at a pantry site.

We’ve made huge strides in this service since we started the program with just 50 families per week back in April.

Many of these families face barriers to meeting their essential needs, which have only been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic due to job loss, difficulty juggling childcare during school closures or the added stress of working the frontlines. Healthy food delivered by bike is a small support offered during a difficult time, especially since the deliveries by bike allow people to stay safe at home and therefore limit their exposure to COVID-19. This is more important than ever as virus infections have spiked in recent weeks.

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The CCC’s team is currently able to deliver to about 50% of the total number of people being served by the food pantry run out of Rosa Parks Elementary. In addition to 40-pound loads of food, crews also deliver occasional non-food items such as light bulbs, vegetable starts, hand sanitizer, and coffee donated by Nossa Familia.

To make the deliveries, our teams use a mix of Surly Bill (on loan from the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association and Portland State University) and Burley trailers. One volunteer even crafted their own homemade trailer, and another uses a repurposed doggy trailer. The larger utility trailers hold about eight full deliveries while the smaller Burleys carry three deliveries at a time.

The Cully delivery team is serving folks living in and around northeast Killingsworth and Cully Blvd. The CCC has partnered up with Living Cully at this particular site. We mainly reach people living in apartments, while Living Cully supports residents at various mobile park homes in the area. The New Columbia delivery team is serving folks living in the Portsmouth neighborhood, especially the César Chávez School community who live north of Lombard Street. The two teams stay roughly within a 3-mile radius at both sites, and are using neighborhood greenways and other residential side streets to stay as safe as possible.

With this program being initiated as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we weren’t sure how long it could last with our limited funding. However, thanks to sponsors such as outdoor gear retailer evo and a crowdfunding contest by OBRA, we’ve been able to sustain this valuable program.

If you’d like to learn how you can support this hunger prevention initiative, please email our CCC Development Director Brittany Morris via brittany@communitycyclingcenter.org.

— William Francis, Community Cycling Center
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Johnny Burrell
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Johnny Burrell

Such an awesome organization. Great job William, CCC and all of the volunteers making it happen.

9watts
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Super impressive effort. Thanks for highlighting it here.