By Tamara Anne Fowler, Concordia News

When her brother took his wedding vows in the Willamette Valley in July, Allison Bansen took the opportunity to move back from Washington, D.C., to her beloved Oregon. Two weeks later, she started work at the Oregon Food Bank (OFB).

“It was the perfect transition time,” she said. Allison is one of five volunteer coordinators working full time on the OFB team. Coordinating volunteers isn’t new to her. She’d been at it for five years in Washington before moving to Concordia.

“I live right off Alberta. It’s less than a two-mile, six-minute commute.”

Volunteers at the Oregon Food Bank. (Photo by Chris Baker, Concordia News)

Her passion is food and food access, which makes sense as Allison’s favorite part of her job is the food repack. Produce arrives at the warehouse in 48-by-48-inch bins. Volunteers then repack the food down into family-sized portions.

The items that are repacked mirror the season. “Right now we are repacking potatoes, pears, apples, turnips and radishes,” she reported on a recent Thursday. “Tonight we are doing cauliflower.”

The focus is on providing fresh food. Allison sees engaging the community – in addition to raising hunger awareness – as the most important part of the job.

“I like to share and develop relationships focusing on what we do here and making a difference.”

Of course, she loves coordinating all the volunteers.

“Our volunteer registration is strictly online. After you sign up for a shift, you’ll receive a confirmation of the date and time you’ve signed up for and you’re all set.

“Our main volunteer opportunities are in our food repack shifts that run Monday through Saturday,” she added.

“We also have a garden – it just wrapped up for the season – and administrative work that people can volunteer in as well.”

Volunteer opportunities at the Portland and Beaverton locations also include leading nutrition education classes, maintaining learning gardens and lending a hand at events. Most volunteer opportunities are two to three hours in length and do not require a regular commitment.

And contributions are always welcome. 

To donate, you can mail a check, drop off cash or a check, or donate online at, the same website where you can register for a volunteer shift.