In the community

Big grant propels effort by Adrian civic group to create new food pantry

ADRIAN – A sizeable grant from a state foundation will help an Adrian civic group lay the foundation to create a new food pantry in town.

The Adrian 2040 group has been awarded a $30,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation, crucial for the effort to re-establish a pantry in the town that sits in the center of a food desert.

A food desert is an area that has limited access to affordable food. Adrian does not have a grocery store and many residents struggle with inadequate food supplies.

The grant will help bridge a food gap for many, said Nickie Shira, president of Adrian 2040.

“This is huge because of the situation in Adrian where it is a food desert. It is hard for many families and some of our senior citizens that are struggling financially. Having a food pantry to help meet those needs is huge,” said Shira.

Adrian 2040 operated a food pantry at Adrian High School until last spring. Between December 2022 and May 2023, the food pantry served 957 people, 119 of whom were disabled, according to Angie Sillonis, the pantry operations manager.

The pantry, though, faced a good news, bad news situation last spring. On one hand, enrollment in the school district was up but that meant the space used for the pantry was at a premium. The pantry closed in May to allow the district to use the space for a preschool.

Since then, residents facing food insecurity relied on a once-a-month visit from the Oregon Food Bank.

Adrian 2040 plans to buy a modular building to serve as a food bank. The grant money won’t cover the total cost but it is a step in the right direction, said Sillonis.

“It is enough to get us started and to help with momentum,” said Sillonis.

Sillonis said the new building will cost about $90,000.

 “One of the business owners downtown has space that is unused,” said Sillonis.

Sillonis said she and Shira sent a letter to the Oregon Community Foundation last summer.

“Then we were notified we were invited to apply. Our application was put in in September,” said Sillonis.

Sillonis said the group was notified their application was accepted two weeks ago.

Shira said a food pantry in downtown Adrian will help the community.

“We are so appreciative to the Oregon Community Foundation for their support in this. It definitely provides a solid foundation for us to build on,” said Shira.

Sillonis said Adrian 2040 aims to have the food pantry open by next May.

Meanwhile, she said the group is searching for other grants to fund the new pantry. Donations also are welcome.

“We are just out there looking for money wherever we can find it,” said Sillonis.

To donate to the Adrian 2040 effort for a new food pantry contact Sillonis at 208-602-5084.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE – The Malheur Enterprise delivers quality local journalism – fair and accurate. You can read it any hour, any day with a digital subscription. Read it on your phone, your Tablet, your home computer. Click subscribe – $7.50 a month.