Salem First Church of the Nazarene (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Hoping to make a small dent in people’s grocery needs, local food bank Hope Station is handing out frozen soups, eggs, potatoes and chips on Thursday.

The 12,000 pounds of food will be handed out in a drive-thru setting at Salem First Church of the Nazarene on 1550 Market St. S.E. and First Baptist Church of Salem on 395 Marion St. N.E. from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. June 11.

Hope Station Community Services Founder Marci Mattoso said the donations are to help community members who have lost their job or those who otherwise need food.

She said people have been coming into the food bank like crazy, but it’s also received more donations than ever.

Hope Station started as an idea Mattoso had while working as a marriage and family therapy counselor in Portland.

She initially wanted to start a nonprofit to help the poor in Brazil, her home country, but after interning at a food bank in Portland she realized there were poor people in America who needed help too.

Mattoso approached the pastor at Church of the Nazarene about her vision and the church helped financially at the start 12 years ago, she said.

At first, the food bank fed around seven families. Now it’s serving 1,100 families each month.

“The first year we donated 14,000 pounds. Last year it was 450,000 pounds,” she said.

Mattoso said the food bank serves two populations. The main focus is on people who are working and don’t receive SNAP benefits, often called food stamps.

They pay $30 a month and have to volunteer two hours each month to get $300 to $400 worth of groceries.

When there’s excess food it goes to homeless or retired people, she said. 

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