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Volunteers help feed immigrant families in Clackamas County

The Immigrant Mutual Aid Coalition provides food to families impacted by pandemic and wildfires.

CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. — The KGW Great Food Drive is now underway, and we want to highlight people and organizations in our community who are helping fight hunger.

The Immigrant Mutual Aid Coalition (IMAC) of Clackamas County aims to help Latinx families in need. IMAC formed last September when the region was devastated by wildfires

“Being here during the fires was a pretty wild time,” said IMAC volunteer Jackie Curry. “It was hard. Hard to breathe, it was hard to be outside, it was hard to see people suffering without the things that they need.”

The organization began collecting food and necessities like hygiene products for many families displaced by the fires. And with the pandemic already impacting many people financially, missing even one week of work due to the fires was devastating, especially for those doing essential jobs like farm and field work.

“It's a little bit of a travesty that the people who are putting food on our tables don't necessarily have food on their own tables,” said IMAC organizer Beth Ronk.

Credit: Beth Ronk

Volunteers stress the importance of distributing food that is fresh and culturally specific.

“They know that we're providing them the food they would go buy in the store themselves. Specific produce like plantains, tomatillos, peppers, limes, anything fresh,” said Ronk.

In addition to providing food, a goal for volunteers is helping Latinx families get better access to resources like healthcare and unemployment benefits.

“Just making sure these people know the resources do exist," said volunteer Ira Cuello-Martinez. "It's just a matter of asking and looking around and making sure they get connected to the people they need to see."

Volunteer Carmen Gonzalez assists people with enrolling in school or getting a driver’s license. She immigrated from Oaxaca and says it's important for her to help those who don't speak English or Spanish, but speak an indigenous language.

Credit: IMAC

“I remember when I immigrated to this country. I didn't speak enough Spanish. I couldn't obtain benefits, even though there were benefits available, because of my language, because I didn't know enough. I didn't have information,” said Gonzalez.

IMAC receives much of its food from the Oregon Food Bank. If you would like to help, you can donate to the KGW Great Food Drive.

And you can learn more about the Immigrant Mutual Aid Coalition here.

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