Food bag giveaway coming to Christmas Valley

The Giving Plate hopes to start a children’s food bank in Lake County like the one pictured here, which the nonprofit started in Bend.

A Bend-based nonprofit whose founders now reside in Christmas Valley — The Giving Plate — will be in Christmas Valley at Floweree Park Pavilion, Saturday, Sept. 12 to pass out bags of food to kids. The bags will be provided by Kid’s Korner, currently the only food bank just for kids in Oregon, which The Giving Plate started in 2017.

The bags of food will be given out to children up to age 18 who sign up for the Kid’s Korner program. The child must be present on Sept. 12 to receive a bag. Parents will be asked to provide the child’s name, town, date of birth and phone number upon signing them up for the program.

Once established, children will be able to get a food bag of their own every Saturday, according to Debra Kelso, co-founder of The Giving Plate.

The bags handed out on Sept. 12 will include jerky, granola bars, fruits cups or squeeze, juice, fruit snacks, ramen, crackers or chips, popcorn and oatmeal.

Debra and Gary Kelso founded The Giving Plate approximately 10 years ago with the goal of serving their community during an economic downturn when many people were struggling to make ends meet.

Their initial vision was to help 500 families get food on their tables, but after registering the 500th family within months of opening, the Kelsos realized the number of people facing food insecurity in their community was far great than they had realized.

“At The Giving Plate we propose to serve our guests with compassion and hospitality, and we are intentional in our efforts to remove the ‘clinical experience’ of entering a food bank,” the nonprofit’s website describes.

Debra oversees the Kid’s Korner children’s food bank and said that the goal is to have a children’s food bank permanently located in Christmas Valley.

She noted that the “pop up” event on the 12th will be more of a fact-finding day to determine the food needs of youth in the area.

She emphasized that the food bags are “hearty,” with 8 to 10 pounds of food in each bag.

The Giving Plate typically makes an effort to engage the kids they serve and make the hand-out day an entertaining event where kids can play games and win a prize. That has changed since COVID, Debra noted, but the hope is that future kids’ days will be full of more fun and activities.

Since moving to Christmas Valley about a month ago, the Kelsos have started working to secure a permanent location there for the Lake County Kid’s Korner Food Bank and have found a building they think may work.

They are also seeking a start-up grant from the Oregon Food Bank to help establish the Lake County children’s food bank location. Debra said her goal is to have a building secured by the time the weather changes.

The Kelsos would bring the Christmas Valley location under the umbrella of The Giving Plate, which is a 501(c)(3). The nonprofit would then extend to Lake County without being part of the Klamath-Lake Food Bank, Debra said, so it would not take any resources from that food bank.

For more information about The Giving Plate and the Sept. 12 food bag giveaway, call 541-797-6883.

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