Christmas (in July) (Part IV)

Lead Cook, Cathy Meyer (L), beams as the new stoves arrive with Nic Welch (Site Supervisor) and DeAnna Pearl (Grants and Media Coordinator).

Vernonia's Stories: Part IV

Vernonia may be just a small town in Northwestern Oregon, but the little logging community has hosted the hugely successful Vernonia Summer Meal Program for the past five years, thanks to the big hearts of its residents.

We recently stopped by the site to see it in action and to learn a little more about its volunteers, whose efforts make such a program possible.

This is the fourth story in a series about the Vernonia Summer Meal Program.


Cathy Meyer spends much of her mornings in the kitchen, where she prepares and dishes up lunch for the Vernonia Summer Meal Program. She officially serves as the lead cook of the program, but this is more than just a job for her -- it’s a passion.

“She just wants to feed kids,” DeAnna Pearl, the site’s volunteer grants and media coordinator, explains. “That’s all she wants to do.”

Now out of her apron, with the counters cleaned and the dishes washed, Cathy glows with delight. Christmas has come in July, in the form of two brand new stoves.

Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon recently selected the Vernonia Summer Meal Program as a 2015 Summer Meals Support Fund recipient. DeAnna applied for the $3,500 grant with the hope of upgrading the meal site’s cooking and food prep area.

Instead of negotiating the constricted cooking space of the kitchen and fighting finicky burners, Cathy and her volunteers can now spend more time supporting other aspects of meal service such as monitoring, mentoring, and facilitating activities for their young diners.

“This grant is to help us not have to ‘make do,’” DeAnna says of the resourceful attitude Cathy and her volunteer kitchen staff have toward their limited workspace. “It’s to help empower us to make more food.”

As two community members maneuver the stoves through the door, Vernonia’s Summer Meal Program coordinators eagerly crowd around the stainless steel appliances. It becomes clear, from their chatter and excitement, that they will serve more than just meals this summer with this gift.

DeAnna affirms, “We not only get to feed kids, but we get to feed their souls too.”

The smile on Cathy’s face suggests that she more than agrees.

So it is in the spirit of giving and cheer that Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon wishes the merriest of summers to the Vernonia Summer Meal Program, and to meal sites across the state, for your continued commitment to preventing hunger on behalf of Oregon’s children.

To learn more about Vernonia's Summer Meal Program, visit their Facebook page.

To find a meal site near you, go to                                                         


Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon grants like the one awarded to the Vernonia Summer Meals Program are made possible through generous donations to our Summer Meals Support Fund. We would like to thank the following organizations for supporting summer meals! 

AAA Oregon/Idaho, Congregation Beth Israel, Barran Liebman, David Spire and Janice Simons, Gerding Edlen, Development Company, Grace Memorial Episcopal Church, The Greenbrier Companies, Inc., Kaiser Permanente, KOIN-TV 6, Legacy Health, Perkins & Co, Providence Health & Services, and The Walmart Foundation. 


Be sure to check out Part I, Part II, and Part III of our blog series on Vernonia's Summer Meal Program.