On a chilly December morning in 2013, ten Elemental employees arrived at the LIFT Urban Portland warehouse to spend a few hours, stocking food donations and organizing shelves. I remember how humbled we were by the accomplishments of LIFT, which is an Oregon Food Bank Partner: serving more than 150 families weekly at Preston’s Pantry; providing fresh produce for kids and families from Chapman Elementary under the Food for Kids program; and, raising fresh produce in gardens to provide nourishment for low-income residents in Northwest Portland, the Pearl, Old Town/Chinatown and the West End. These individuals can sometimes be “invisible” in areas of growth and wealth, such as Portland’s booming downtown tech corridor.
Our work with LIFT was so satisfying that we resolved to do more! The gentler weather and bountiful produce typical of spring in Oregon makes it difficult to remember that we have neighbors who are hungry and food banks with spare shelves. So, in 2014, we shifted the timing of the annual Elemental Food Drive from December to May – and proudly supported LIFT with 646 pounds of donated packaged goods, and $1,829 in “virtual” food.
In 2015, the Elemental food drive was an even bigger success with the addition of a friendly challenge that included Jive Software and Puppet Labs. The competition focused on who could bring in the most food per employee. While I’m happy to report that yes, Elemental did take first place, the true winner was LIFT. Together, the three companies brought in more than 1,500 pounds of food and in excess of $7,500 in “virtual” food!
This year, Elemental’s partnership with LIFT has deepened considerably. In its first grant cycle, The Elemental Community Investment Fund (ECIF) awarded three local non-profits $10,000 annually for three years. To help combat hunger in the Portland community, we named LIFT as one of the beneficiaries. You can learn more about the ECIF here.
But we’re not going to stop there. With the enthusiastic support of our colleagues at the Technology Association of Oregon (TAO), we are opening up our annual food drive competition to all tech companies in Portland.
Here are the three simple steps you can take to get your company and peers involved and to make a huge impact for LIFT: contact Katie at Lift to sign-up your company, provide TAO your headcount and then encourage your employees to bring in as much food as they can by May 31. Donations can also be made virtually by going here.
This will be a great way to help support our neighbors in need — and to have some fun while we’re at it. And there’s a reward: a Belmont Coffee cart in the office for an afternoon in June, making espresso, latte, flat white, cafe au lait and more for your team. Please join us and give a LIFT to our neighbors in need!
By: Emily Barrett, Elemental Community Ambassador