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Coos County food bank struggles to find a new space to store donations

People distributing food at a food bank.
Joel Muniz
People distributing food at a food bank.

A large food bank in Coos County that feeds hundreds of families is struggling to find a new space to operate out of now that they have to move.

For years, Pelican Harbor Food Bank has stored its donated food in an empty storefront provided by Pony Village Mall. When a new company moved into part of the same space, the food bank found out they would have to move out by the end of July.

Director Laurel Broman has been scouring the Coos Bay/North Bend area for a temporary location, but she hasn’t had any luck.

“We're not going to close. If I have to stand out on the street with an umbrella over me and all my boxes, that's what I'll have to do." Broman says. "Last week we fed 853 families. I can’t let those people go hungry.”

Tara Johnson, the director of a social services center in Coos Bay, says that Pelican Harbor Food Bank serves a crucial niche because they aren’t required to ask demographic and screening questions like some food pantries.

“If Pelican Harbor wasn't there, then there isn't that stop gap, especially for people who don't need the service every single month or every single week, but they do need it periodically,” Johnson says.  

Broman says right now they’re trying to donate as much food as they can to reduce their inventory.

If the nonprofit can find a temporary building before the end of July, they hope to then secure grant funding for a permanent warehouse.

Noah is a broadcast journalist and podcast producer who was born and raised in Salem, Oregon. He came to Jefferson Public Radio through the Charles Snowden Program of Excellence after graduating with a BS in journalism from the University of Oregon. In his spare time, Noah enjoys backpacking, scuba diving and writing music.