Tyler Schaffer takes the helm at food bank

Tyler Schaffer

The Josephine County Food Bank has been making some changes this year, including hiring a warehouse manager whose drive to give back to his community is as unique as it was unexpected.
Tyler Schaffer, a longtime resident of the Illinois Valley, spread his wings and relocated to Southern California for several years before eventually feeling compelled to return to Southern Oregon. Upon his return, he did his best to reintegrate himself into the local community, but the distinct feeling that something was missing from his life kept nagging at him.
It wasn’t until the 2020 Slater Fire tore through Happy Camp and threatened the Takilma community that Schaffer realized he had to take action. In his words, “I couldn’t just sit and watch places burn,” so he made the decision to join the Takilma Peacekeepers for several weeks. During this time, he realized that what had been missing from his life was a sense of fulfillment, and that giving back to his local community brought him a unique sense of peace. After this realization, Schaffer began to seek out more ways to contribute on a local level, doing everything from playing his bagpipes on Memorial Day for veterans, to DJing karaoke nights at the Sportsman Tavern.
A Facebook post about the local food pantry needing volunteers also caught his eye around last year. He became the pantry’s food distribution manager for a brief time, and spent as much time as he could volunteering. Reflecting on this period in his life, Schaffer mused, “I didn’t think anybody was paying attention.”
In February of this year, it became apparent that his hard work was not going entirely unnoticed when he received a call from Josephine Sze, the executive director of the Josephine County Food Bank. Sze mentioned that their warehouse manager position was open, and that she felt as though Schaffer would be the right fit for the job. From the moment he entered the facility, Schaffer realized that this was where he was supposed to be.
“Everybody that works here is here because they want to help people,” he said of his coworkers, adding that since he took the position in March he wakes up every morning excited to begin his workday.
However, working with the food bank has also forced Schaffer to open his eyes to the many families in Josephine County who require their services. Since March, there has been a drastic increase in demand for the services that the food bank provides, and Schaffer has noted that as a result of this their workload has grown significantly. As the balance between their supply and demand has begun to teeter, it’s become increasingly apparent that more hands-on volunteers and donations are needed to keep everything running smoothly.
The Josephine County Food Bank will be holding a food drive event in the Grants Pass Grocery Outlet parking lot Wednesday, Nov. 29, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Schaffer encourages any community members who are able to come by to donate what they can. A single dollar can provide a person with up to three healthy meals a week; a $25 donation can feed a family of four for a week; and a $300 donation has the potential to feed a person for an entire year. It is imperative that these vital services for our community are able to stay afloat, and every bit of effort counts.
If you or somebody you know are struggling with food insecurity, or if you are interested in volunteering with or donating to the Josephine County Food Bank, please contact them by phone at 541- 479-5556 or visit their website at www.jocofoodbank.org for more information.