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Butte County food pantries struggle to meet demand

Paradise Hope Center pantry on Feb. 22, 2024.
Angel Huracha
Paradise Hope Center pantry on Feb. 22, 2024.

Food banks across Butte County are seeing increased demand thanks to a mixture of high inflation and cuts to state and federal food programs.

“Folks are hurting,” said Joshua Jameson, executive director of the nonprofit Oroville Hope Center. “There’s been a significant uptick in new people who we have started to serve.”

The Oroville Hope Center is a faith-based community outreach organization. It provides meals six days a week, and food donations for unhoused residents and anyone in the community who needs them. They also have work-training programs and a free clothing store.

“Four or five years ago it seemed that surplus food resources were being distributed to our ecosystem. Not only our agency, but other agencies that do similar work,” Jameson said. “In the last couple of years, there has been a steady decline, both in the quantity and the frequency of obtaining some of the government [aid].”

Jameson said the center partners with local grocery stores to get some of its food. It’s currently looking for other ways to fill the need in the community, including potentially partnering with other food programs in the area.

The high demand for food has been extra pronounced in Paradise and surrounding communities. The Paradise Hope Center is an extension of the Oroville Hope Center that opened in early 2019 in the wake of the Camp Fire and has provided food to residents since.

Joshua Jameson Jr. who is Jameson’s son manages the Paradise Hope Center. He said the pantry serves around 300 households each month.

“That equals about 650 people,” he said.

The Paradise Hope Center is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The site is entirely volunteer-run, including his position.

Despite speculation that the Paradise Hope Center might have to close, Jameson Jr. said it isn’t going anywhere.

“Even if things got to where we didn't have anything on our shelves, we wouldn't close down,” he said. “I live in the community and want to be a support to the community. This is home for me, and I will do everything I can to keep our doors open. We've been doing this for years and will continue to do so.”

Alec Stutson grew up in Colorado and graduated from the University of Missouri with degrees in Radio Journalism, 20th/21st Century Literature, and a minor in Film Studies. He is a huge podcast junkie, as well as a movie nerd and musician.