Feed The Mass is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that has been operating in Portland since 2016. Founded on the belief that everyone deserves access to reliable, high quality nutrition, we function to empower and connect the people of Portland through food.
We are proud to deliver multiple sustainable solutions to combat food insecurity in the Portland metro area. Our food education program offers accessible cooking workshops to the Portland community, putting the power of meeting their nutrition needs directly into their own hands. Our FED program serves our city’s hungry and combats food waste by turning donated food into high quality, nutritious meals that are served to our most vulnerable neighbors.
Empower, Educate and Serve through Food.
Food insecurity has been a growing problem throughout the pandemic across the US, in Oregon, and especially in Multnomah county. The USDA reports that 13.8 million US households were food insecure in 2020, and estimates that this number has grown in 2021. An estimated 1 million Oregonians - close to 1 in 4 people - experienced food insecurity in 2020 (Edwards, 2020). 1 in 7 of these Oregonians is a child (Feeding America, 2021). According to data collected by the Oregon Food Bank, Multnomah county has the highest number of food insecure people in the state: 133,230 individuals (2020). Juxtaposing this data is the sobering reality that an estimated 31% of food is wasted each year in America, translating into 96 billion pounds of food and $165 billion in lost economic value (Evans & Nagele, 2018).
Our programs exist to fight food insecurity and food waste at their source. We develop, cook and serve healthy meals to members of our community in need, utilizing excess food supply to prevent waste. We also empower Portland kids to feed themselves and others by teaching them to cook simple and inexpensive yet nutritious and delicious foods.
To date our program has served 170 thousand meals to our Portland neighbors, and rescued 115 thousand pounds of food from being wasted. In 2021 our collaborations with Portland Public Schools and Level Up brought eight-week cooking class workshops to 104 local kids and their families.
How We Excel
Our community driven, replicable programming combines the powerful perspective of a cross-cultural collaboration with the working expertise of a skilled team of local chefs and educators. We’ve come together to share great food and the story behind each dish, celebrating our own unique cultures and the collective food culture of the city with each meal. In collaboration with IRCO and SE Works, we provide workforce training and internship opportunities to further empower our community members to support themselves and others. Our programming promotes equality, dignity, and compassion for all by connecting us through the universal love language of food.
Optimally Positioned to Serve
Our holistic approach to food systems management and growing network of local collaborations has brought us to an exciting point in our ability to serve our community. As levels of food insecurity in Portland reach unprecedented heights and the funding sources that many have relied on to meet basic needs during the early stages of the pandemic disappear, the outpouring of practical and moral support from our neighbors continues to strengthen and inspire us. Our already powerful food sourcing network continues to expand, increasing the amount of ingredients we can access to create our meals. In addition to providing meals directly to individuals and families in need, we partner with a growing number of local mutual aid organizations to serve the people within their spectrum of care.
Our Founding Story
"Feed the Mass was created in 2016. I started teaching children how to cook and bake simple yet healthy food at their parents’ request. Quickly the word got out and I was teaching my first Little Chef Class.
One day I heard the story of Jesus and the miracle of feeding the masses with 5 fish and 2 loaves of bread. The story wasn’t that he multiplied the food, but that if people shared the little they had it would always be enough. To feed the mass you need to teach people to feed each other.
This is where the name Feed the Mass comes from. My goal is to teach people that we take care of each other through food and cooking. Food connects every person in the world. I want to use it to create a community that is inclusive, diverse, and accessible to everyone."
Jacobsen Valentine, Founder & Executive Director
Food Security Status of U.S. Households in 2020. (2021). Economic Research Service. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved from: https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.aspx
Edwards, M. (2020). Oregon’s Food Insecurity in the Time of COVID. OSU Policy Analysis Laboratory (OPAL). School of Public Policy, Oregon State University. Release date: 12/8/2020.
Hunger in Oregon. (2021). Feeding America. Retrieved from: https://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/oregon
New Projections Reveal Worsening Food Insecurity in Pandemic’s Wake. (2020). Oregon Food Bank. Retrieved from: https://www.oregonfoodbank.org/new-projections-reveal-worsening-food-insecurity-in-pandemics-wake
Evans, A., & Nagele, R. (2018). A Lot To Digest, Natural Resources Journal, Vol. 58, No. 1 (Winter 2018), pp. 177-214.