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The Community Cycling Center Makes a Community-Wide Difference

Central Northeast Neighbors (CNN) is a community-based non-profit coalition of nine NE PDX neighborhoods, including Beaumont-Wilshire. With excess 2020 funding ear-marked for events, CNN provided their NE neighborhood associations with $1000 grants to best support communities impacted by Covid-19. The BWNA board met and agreed to award our grant to the Alberta Street Community Cycling Center's outstanding and creative efforts to make a positive difference during a difficult time.

From Hanna Howsmon at Community Cycling Center:

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Community Cycling Center staff that typically operate school-based programs have shifted their focus to create an adaptive program to meet pressing community needs in the Cully and Portsmouth neighborhoods. Through our food delivery by bike program, a group of staff, community members, and volunteers work collaboratively each week to bring food boxes from nearby food pantries to recipients’ homes.

While Cully is located just to the northeast of Beaumont-Wilshire, the neighborhood demographics vary widely. Cully residents disproportionately represent BIPOC (specifically Latinx), low-income, immigrant communities when compared to their more affluent peers residing in Beaumont-Wilshire. Because our mission is to broaden access to bicycling and its benefits (in this case, the benefit of food security provided by bike deliveries), we focused our programmatic reach on areas of Portland with the highest need where we already had strong community ties.

In partnership with Northeast Emergency Food Program and Living Cully, our staff serve approximately 200 households in the Cully neighborhood each Friday. During the first part of each delivery day, our team of staff, community partners, and volunteers pack and assemble food boxes containing staple dry good items such as rice, dried beans, masa, and canned goods, as well as fresh produce, dairy, and protein. Critical to this operation is the support of our ABC – “Andando en Bicicletas y Caminando” (Riding your Bike and Walking Around) program members. Each week, 4-5 group members volunteer their time to support fellow Cully community members by assembling food boxes for delivery.

Once assembled, food boxes are then delivered by bicycle to folks around the neighborhood, who largely reside in apartment buildings and mobile home parks. As funding and supplies are available, we also deliver other essential items to recipients along with their weekly food box. In the past, this has been small packages of PPE, fliers about local eviction moratoriums, information about nearby vaccine events, culturally specific food items, and basic personal care products.

With this generous $1000 grant from the Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood Association, we were able to purchase several items for another round of personal care product deliveries, which we call Care Kits. Specifically, we purchased hand soap, toothbrushes, antibacterial wipes, lotion, and reusable bags (for packing items) which will be distributed mid-June along with toothpaste, paper towels, toilet paper, chapstick, dental floss, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and face masks. Each Care Kit delivery is often months in the making, as securing funding and bulk quantities of supplies as well as managing the logistics of packing and transporting items takes significant orchestration.

This last mile approach to direct service supports community members facing a myriad of challenges — whether it be due to loss of work and income when Covid hit, loss of childcare when schools closed, mobility challenges, or tight work schedules — that make getting to a food pantry or grocery store difficult, not to mention financially inaccessible. Delivering Care Kits are a small but significant way to acknowledge and support low-income folks’ needs that go far beyond food insecurity.

If you feel led to support this community magic, please consider donating to our food delivery program via this link or by texting “DELIVERY” to 44-321.

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