20 years, nearly half a million meals

    <p>file photo<br>ACCESS and the Ashland Food Co-op are celebrating 20 years of partnership.{/p}

    ACCESS and the Ashland Food Co-op are celebrating 20 years of partnership.

    “For 20 years, the Ashland Food Co-op has been an integral part of helping ACCESS feed people experiencing food insecurity in Jackson County,” according to a press release.

    Assistance from the Co-op has equaled approximately 434,848 meals provided for the community.

    The Co-op has supported ACCESS’s food share gardens through its grant program by providing nearly $10,000 over the past five years.

    The community gardens are maintained by volunteers and are used to supplement the local ACCESS food pantries and partner agencies.

    ACCESS Nutrition Director Rachael Ward said the Co-op’s support in the gardens has been a great help.

    “With their help we have been able to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into the diets of food-pantry guests throughout Jackson County,” Ward said.

    The Co-op also has a year-round coupon scan program that has collected $70,466 in donations.

    According to the press release, more than 33,000 residents of Jackson County experience food scarcity, and 25 percent of that number are children.

    Co-op General Manager Emile Amarotico said the Co-op is happy to donate to a good cause for people in need.

    “Whenever asked what can the Co-op do to address hunger for those who cannot afford healthy food, it is of great comfort to know that we can best serve these needs by focusing on our retail grocery service while supporting ACCESS in one of its core competencies of providing food assistance to those in need,” Amarotico said.

    ACCESS has been helping Jackson County residents find food, housing and other essentials and break the cycle of poverty since 1976. The organization has an educational focus and teaches people how to become self-sufficient.

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