Florence Food Share has served coastal communities since 1980

Florence Food Share is one of FOOD For Lane County’s largest partner agencies. It serves the coastal communities of Florence, Dunes City, Westlake and surrounding areas in western Lane County, distributing close to 50,000 pounds of food every month.

There were 7,754 households served by Florence Food Share in 2021-22.

Florence Food Share began in 1980 as Manna Ministries. According to the Florence Food Share website, it started as a grassroots effort to provide emergency food service to Florence residents. A group of Florence churches organized the food share, which operated out of people’s garages and cars.

Florence Food Share later moved to the Siuslaw Area Women’s Center building and was governed by the Florence Area Coordinating Council until securing tax-exempt status.

In 1994, Florence Food Share moved to its current location at 2190 Spruce Street on land leased from the New Life Lutheran Church. Two local individuals led a fund drive to secure funding for construction of the building. A local contractor led the construction effort.

That same year, Florence Food Share began its own garden. After opening with a few raised beds, the garden has grown to 52 raised garden beds and 15,000 square feet. Since 2015, the garden has annually produced nearly 10,000 pounds of produce. Florence Food Share board member Bart Mealer is also the head gardener. All of the produce is distributed to clients. 

In 2011, Florence Food Share started a water catchment system that held up to 10,000 gallons of rainwater and significantly reduced its water costs with the city of Florence. The following year, garden staff and volunteers built their first greenhouse with a second one constructed in 2014. Staff and volunteers have also increased water catchment capacity to 12,500 gallons. 

Florence Food Share is open from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Tours of the garden are also available during open hours. 

Donations and volunteers are always needed. If you’re interested in donating or volunteering, go here. 

By Ashley Conklin, FOOD For Lane County