It’s On Us Corvallis was created to retain local dollars the most impactfully - by retaining local jobs. It’s an economics concept called Local Multiplier Effect. Rather than gifting meals or cash to folks who have lost their food service job, we hoped to help retain local employment opportunities and lessen the economic impact for individuals. In food systems theory this is called a market intervention.
The mission of IOU Corvallis is to build community and help the local economy through food. This program is not intended to be used as an emergency food program for individuals experiencing food insecurity or other symptoms of poverty. We know there are many other resources in Corvallis for folk who are experiencing food insecurity to obtain food resources.
IOU Corvallis is a community-building program with a food access side-effect. We intend to create a feeling of community support through gifting and supporting our local businesses to retain paid workers.
Determining need is a sticky subject, one hotly contested in academia and government programs and without one agreed-upon scale or way to judge. We don’t agree with imposing a measurement method on another’s situation without a full understanding of their situated experience, and such a measurement doesn’t exist (to our knowledge, hence the hotly contested academic articles and conflicting government requirements). Other food-aid programs use proxies like income, hours worked, or housing status to determine need. We don’t think there is a way to measure the need for a gift, however.
IOU makes an effort to support restaurants that reflect the diversity of our donor base in ownership and cuisines. We strive to partner with 50% minority or first-generation immigrant owned restaurants, disperse funds throughout Benton County to provide geographic food access, and support a wide variety of cuisines.
Explaining IOU to a new restaurant takes anywhere from one email exchange to multiple in-person visits with restaurant owners or managers. Sometimes we need a regular customer or community member who knows the owner already to explain the concept first. Restaurant owners and managers in Corvallis are incredibly diverse, and we make sure to take the time to learn how they communicate best and meet them there.
We understand food accessibility includes economic, cultural, and geographic accessibility. We partnered with Dial-a-Bus of Benton County at the beginning of the pandemic to provide geographic accessibility through delivery. As this program’s popularity grew, we realized organizing delivery was placing a major burden on our volunteer team and on the restaurants’ kitchen.
is the social media guru and IOU treasurer. Her leadership, empathy, passion for social justice, knowledge about food systems, and general ability to achieve anything is invaluable to our mission. Aliza is a senior research assistant at Portland State University, co-leader of the Food Action Team, and tends her garden and chickens in her free time.
manages the graphics, website, and donor relations. Her thoughtfulness and calm give the team a strong foundation on which to build. Ashley is the development director for Greenbelt Land Trust, serves on the Downtown Advisory Board, is a board member of Leadership Corvallis, and co-leader of the Food Action Team . Ashley is a novice gardener and passionate foodie.
is the heart behind this operation. She is emerita professor of German History at Colorado State University and teaches German classes at the German School Corvallis. Elizabeth is a budding gardening enthusiast with a passion for feeding people. Elizabeth works very closely with restaurants to make sure the large numbers of orders we need work with their logistics and staffing.
rounds out the team with a fresh perspective and new energy. She is a graduate student in nonprofit management at University of Oregon and has a passion for live theatre, costume and cosmetic arts, and the Seattle Sounders. Emily interviews IOU participants and works on our grant program.