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People in Oregon are taking simple steps to shop safer and extend the life of their food
Statewide, OR—The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has reached out across the state to tell the stories of people in Oregon who are working every day to ensure that we have good food to eat. Through these stories, we get beyond the numbers to bring focus to the real people who make up the supply chain to get food to our table.

We use these few examples to salute and thank all of our tireless food workers–

“The great thing to see has been the teamwork. Everyone supporting each other to find new ways to make this challenging situation work for customers, staff and the community," said Rianna Koppel, sustainability coordinator at Ashland Food Co-op . As it continues to serve the needs of its members during the COVID-19 crisis, the Co-op has taken steps to safeguard employees and customers, as well as continue its work with Ashland Food Angels, the local volunteer organization that collects and redistributes food to increase food security for those in need and make sure no good food goes to waste.

Michael Marzano, who co-owns Hot Mama’s Wings in Eugene with his wife, Angie Marzano, said “We feel lucky to have business so that we can employ some people and provide food to the community.” Like so many other restaurants across the state, Hot Mama’s Wings has shifted its entire business to offer only take-out meals. It has cut its menu in half and employed social distancing measures to protect its staff and customers. “It’s tough, a continuing work in progress, but we’re figuring it out,” Angie added. “As a neighborhood joint, we’ve seen a lot of beautiful support from the local community.”

“It has been shocking to see how this virus can affect our whole world,” acknowledged Lucy De Leon, owner of Tortilleria y Tienda De Leon’s - a restaurant and market that has served up authentic Mexican food for decades and partners with school districts and organizations dedicated to feeding children and families. “At first I woke up every morning wondering how I am going to do this.” De Leon explained that many of her 25 employees are single moms who depend on this job for their family’s livelihood. “They are my #1 priority, to keep them employed. We have to keep going.” Indeed, De Leon said she’s been busy adding new tamales to an already beloved menu of bean and cheese and chicken varieties. “We’re working on a new one - I have three boys and they taste test for me.” In addition, she’s encouraging customers looking for more meal flexibility to freeze her tamales. “The tamales store well, and I’m seeing higher demand for frozen tamales and prepared food.”

We also salute our residents who are taking simple steps to use the food they have and make sure none of it goes to waste. In this moment when people in Oregon are working together to flatten the COVID-19 curve, it takes increasing time and care to safely acquire food and make sure it is all put to good use. DEQ has curated some of the favorite tips people are using to preserve their food at home, making it last longer and go further –

Easing the shopping experience – As we try to reduce our time in stores and navigate the one-way aisles, it helps more than ever to plan our meals and snacks, make a shopping list and map our route. Shopping more efficiently helps us protect ourselves, other shoppers and grocery store staff. And planning ahead helps cut the number of shopping trips and ensure we have only the food we really need so it won’t go to waste.

Getting your food to go the distance – We’re all trying to shop less often so a lot of us are bringing home more food than we’re used to. Making this food last until our next shopping trip can be a challenge, and we’re learning together about what works best. Some fruits like apples and berries, and most vegetables, live longest in the fridge. Others, like squash, can be kept on the counter, while potatoes and onions do best in a cool cupboard-like space. Also, organizing the fridge with the oldest and most perishable items in front is a great reminder of what to use first.

Making friends with the freezer – Many foods we don’t find in the freezer section can also freeze really well. For example, when stocking up on extra bread, meats, tamales and orange juice, or saving leftover ingredients like tomato sauce, we can store them in the freezer so they last until we’re ready to use them. We can also freeze the leftovers from our meals to enjoy later. Be sure to wrap food properly before freezing, and if freezing cooked food, let it cool first. And don’t forget it in the freezer!

Our food workers, both behind the scenes and on the front lines, pour in time, energy and heart to produce and deliver our food. Every day here in Oregon, we benefit from the bounty produced by over 30,000 farmers, butchers, bakers, food processors and many others who grow, tend, pack and ship the fruit of their labor. From there, a network of tens of thousands of people transport, deliver, prep, stock and provide us food through more than 40,000 grocery markets, shops, food banks, shopping and delivery services and restaurants turned into take-out/delivery points. This vital work to get food to our table has never felt more important.

For more information, visit Getting Our Food To Go The Distance During COVID-1…

Media contact: Jennifer Flynt, DEQ, 503-730-5924,

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