Get to know Ashland Emergency Food Bank

The sixth cooperative principle, "Concern for Community," has become even more important since the pandemic began and economies, locally and globally, started to constrict. To address this, the Board of Directors agreed in April to release 100% of patronage dividends and designate Ashland Emergency Food Bank as a donation option for those dividends - resulting in over $20,000 in donations. And with the early launch of Change for Good register round-up, AEFB was a natural choice to receive round-up donations. 

Read on to learn more about AEFB from board president George Kramer, including how you can continue to support their mission.

Can you give us a brief history of AEFB? How did it start? Who are your volunteers?
Community and faith-based groups formed the Food Bank in a garage 1974 to address food insecurity as the result of the oil crisis. Over time, and multiple locations, we have grown into a daily community-owned food bank that provides free-of-charge support to about 1700 people monthly. We have two employees and rely on hundreds of volunteers, the Ashland Food Project, and the generosity of the community to make it all work.

How have things changed at AEFB since the pandemic began? 
In mid-March we scrapped our traditional “shopping” model in favor of a modified “box.”  This allowed us to minimize entry to a limited number of volunteers, keeping them safe, our building secure, and still provide food to clients. Over the past months we have improved on that system. Shoppers fill out a short list based on our available items and their preferences, and our volunteers pull the products and fill their box.  A “Free Table” is located outside, with perishable produce and other items.  Everyone must wear a mask and we sanitize in between individual shoppers, who are not permitted past the Intake/Entry Foyer.

Have you seen new, inspirational ways in which the community has stepped up to support the AEFB mission and each other?
It has been truly humbling to see the out-pouring of support for what we do, and the amazing willingness of our staff and volunteers to make near daily changes to keep our service open and functional. When the Ashland Food Project “Green Bags” were canceled, their donors sent us “Cash, not Cans” to help us purchase replacement food. We have been overwhelmed by offers of support, of time and money. We made a plea for sanitizer and a local company provide it. We asked for help building plastic guards, and a local contractor built it for us. We appreciate everything the Co-op has done to support us to help meet the community’s need.

What efforts can locals take on to improve food security or help AEFB's mission?
We are here to serve the community and our entire mission is to assure that anyone who needs food from us can get it. Unlike government supported foodbanks we rely entirely on donations but that also means that we don’t have a lot of paperwork or ask a lot of questions. If you are an Ashland or Talent resident and you need food, we will provide you with some. Being local is our only rule for service. Your readers can support us by making sure that the word gets out that we are open, that we have food, and that we are there to help anyone that asks. If you don’t need food personally, please consider supporting our efforts, either with a donation, with your time, or just telling a friend that is in need.


To learn more about Ashland Emergency Food Bank, click here to visit their website.

More Co-op News

Chatting about community giving with JPR's "Jefferson Exchange"

Recently, Julie O'Dwyer, Ashland Food Co-op board vice-president, joined a panel of guests on Jefferson Public Radio's "Jefferson Exchange" to discuss how the pandemic has led to an even greater need for community giving and support of local non-profits.

JPR logo

Coronavirus Preparedness at the Co-op

The Ashland Food Co-op acknowledges and shares our community’s concerns about protecting against the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The safety and health of staff and customers is a top priority for the Co-op. We are taking proactive steps throughout our store to maintain a clean atmosphere to work and shop.

We have consolidated store changes below.

Masks Required for All In-Store Shoppers

To protect the health of Co-op staff and shoppers, all shoppers and other visitors on Ashland Food Co-op property must wear face coverings over mouth and nose except when dining in an approved area.

Those who are unable or choose not to wear a mask are welcome to use our recently launched eGrocery online shopping and curbside pickup service as an alternative to shopping in-store.

2020 Co-op Election Results

2020 Co-op Election Results

Ashland Food Co-op owners voted for three open seats on the Board of Directors, and for ten non-profit organizations for the Change for Good register round-up program.

Click a name below to read more about that Co-op Board member.

Co-op Owners Step-Up to Support the Ashland Emergency Food Bank!

AFC and AEFB Press Release - Local Strength!

Release Date: 5-26-2020

In April, the Ashland Food Co-op Board of Directors announced to the community that the Co-op would be returning 100% of the 2019 Patronage Dividend to its owners. The 100% Patronage Dividend return to Co-op owners converted to over $628,000.

The Co-op Board felt in this time of great need it was not the right time for the Co-op to put away funds for the future, but rather to support owners fully so they may have more strength to weather these stormy times.

Free Monday Night Lectures - virtual and recorded

Thanks to the many agile and adaptable experts in the Rogue Valley, the much-loved Free Monday Night Lectures live on - even if everything is moving online.

While we miss seeing community members with a joy of learning showing up at the Co-op Classroom, we hope these recordings teach and inspire you. 


Open letter from AFC Board on Coronavirus Policies

The Ashland Food Co-op has played a critical role supporting our community for nearly 50 years by providing healthy food and a safe place to shop. With the recent COVID-19 shutdown, this support has been even more important and has stretched our organization in ways that we could not have anticipated. We have endeavored to address the needs of both our staff and our customers, hopefully in the most cooperative manner.

Owner Voting on 2020 Co-op Board & more

As an owner of the Ashland Food Co-op, you are an important decision-maker in the leadership of the Co-op! A vital part of your ownership is voting for the Board of Directors.

On the ballot: Vote for Board Candidates and Change for Good Organizations

Vote for Board Candidates
This year, four candidates are nominated for three Board positions: each elected Board director will serve a three-year term. The candidates are Ed Claassen, Mark Gibbs, Carolina Livi and Julie O'Dywer.

A dozen local favorites to explore this summer

The Co-op has always had a focus on supporting the strong local scene of growers and producers - and in these times, it's even more important. Here is just a small selection of some of our favorites from the area.  Help support local businesses next time you stop by the Co-op by picking one of these products.

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By Emile Amarotico, General Manager

It’s been two months since my last update on our Co-op community, but it could just as well have been two years ago, or from an alternate reality! Needless to say, life at the Co-op has changed, and it hasn’t been easy for employees or shoppers. But despite the challenges, it has been an inspiring and reaffirming time that reminds us why we love the cooperative enterprise.