Blues Festival helps Oregon Food Bank feed thousands

The partnership has been a great success over 30 years

The Oregon Food Bank surpassed its goal of raising $1 million during the 29th annual Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival. (Facebook)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) —  The Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival is about more than music — it’s been about feeding the hungry in our community.

From the warehouse with thousands of pounds of food to the always-full of volunteers packing room, the Oregon Food Bank is a busy place.

More about the Blues Festival

The Waterfront Blues Festival is the Oregon Food Bank’s biggest fundraiser, helping it feed 270,000 people each year.

“There is a fundamental connection between the blues and hunger,” Oregon Food Bank CEO Susannah Morgan said. “The blues grew up out of the African American tradition in this country and living in poverty and the challenges of living in poverty and what it can do for someone’s soul and resilience. Beautiful music came out of these difficult times.”

Now in its 30th year, the partnership between the festival and food bank has been a great success, raising around $30 million in those three decades.

That money isn’t just for food itself, it also helps pay for operations.

“It provides operating support to the Oregon Food Bank,” employee Tara Taylor said. “So, we have food, but we also have trucks that run around the state picking up and delivering food, so all of that helps to serve our neighbors in need.”

Another key to the festival’s success is volunteers, about 800 of them, many of whom volunteer at the food bank every week.

“I really care about Oregon’s hunger issue,” volunteer Kathy Mchaffy said. “And this is an organization that does so much for that directly.”

She’s excited to lend a hand at the “iconic” Blues Festival this year.

Morgan said they also try to get people involved with volunteering regularly by introducing them to the Oregon Food Bank at the Blues Festival.

One recent change for the festival is an admission cost. It used to be a suggested donation, but with the rising cost of operating the festival, the food bank started charging for tickets. It’s just $15 at the gate or $10 a day if you buy online in advance.

KOIN 6 News is a proud sponsor of the Waterfront Blues Festival.