The Journey to Lift Urban Portland

Lift Urban Portland's mission is to reduce hunger and improve the lives of low-income residents of Northwest and Downtown Portland. 

We collect and distribute food, maintain community gardens, and sponsor educational programs that encourage healthy life choices.


Our History

We were founded as Northwest Portland Ministries in 1981 by lay people from northwest Portland congregations to support neighbors through coordinated volunteer efforts. Initial activities included conducting food drives, distributing government food commodities, helping people connect with existing social services and providing social opportunities.

The annual Lift Urban Portland Christmas Dinner began in 1985. More than 175 volunteers prepare and serve turkey dinners, provide fellowship and give goody bags full of necessities to our neighbors. Congregation Beth Israel hosts the event, and our volunteers join Meals on Wheels People for home deliveries.

Lift Urban Portland was incorporated January 30, 1986, and received its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in July 1987.

Lift Urban Portland entered a partnership with Home Forward (formerly the Housing Authority of Portland) to provide socialization and other services to residents of low-income apartment buildings: the Adopt-a-Highrise program.  Lift Urban Portland also matches volunteers and residents for one-on-one assistance that preserves the independence of elders and people with disabilities.

Since 2005, Lift Urban Portland has partnered with Meals on Wheels People (formerly Loaves & Fishes) and First Immanuel Lutheran Church to operate a weekday Senior Meal site. The program now serves more than 8,500 meal per year.

In December of 2007, Lift Urban Portland acquired a community Food Pantry on NW 18th and Irving Street. We expanded the Pantry to provide staples and fresh food in a small grocery environment, with the support of the Oregon Food Bank, local businesses and our donors. In 2013, there were 4,677 visits to the Food Pantry. 

In 2008, Lift Urban Portland established the Backpacks for Kids program. Backpacks give weekend food for school children in emergency or low-income housing, and children who depend on school meals for primary nutrition. The program now provides more that 900 backpacks a year.

At the same time, we started food box deliveries to people who cannot travel to the Pantry. We currently deliver 100 food boxes per month to this most vulnerable population.

February 2012: To better reflect our larger service area, Northwest Portland Ministries becomes Lift Urban Portland.