Serving the Hungry in O’Bryant Square, Rain or Shine



O’Bryant Square Garage Closure Forces Temporary Move to Waterfront Park

Potluck is TEMPORARILY moving our meal service to Waterfront Park under the Hawthorne Bridge ramp. This will take effect Sunday, November 19. Temporary closure of the parking garage under O’Bryant Square necessitated this move in order to have some cover from the elements during the winter months. More on the garage closure below.

Guests in attendance were notified last Sunday and flyers have been distributed to the usual locations downtown and the surrounding area. We hope everyone gets the word, but we will have signs up at O’Bryant Square for those who don’t. If you would like to volunteer to spend time at O’Bryant Square during the meal one of the next few weeks to direct people or transport some who can’t make the walk, please contact us.

We will be using this Waterfront Park location  until the end of February, then returning to O’Bryant Square. If the garage there is opened to us before then, we will move back as soon as it is available.


If you are driving down to volunteer there is ample parking immediately adjacent to our serving area. This is a paying lot, the Sunday day rate is $4.50.

Under the bridge

This lot is tricky to access and easy to miss. It, too, is under the bridge ramp.

You can only access it from NORTHBOUND on Naito Parkway. You will have to go south to at least Columbia Street to get on Naito before the parking lot. The entrance is immediately after the on-ramp to the Hawthorne Bridge. If you miss that entrance there is a second one.

Parking AccessIf for some reason this lot is full, the best option is to park in the SmartPark garage one block away at SW 1st and Jefferson. The entrance is on Jefferson between 1st and 2nd. $1.60/hr, max $5.00.



This location also has difficult access for pedestrians.
The safest access for able-bodied persons who can negotiate stairs is to use the sidewalk on the south side of SW Madison to go up the ramp to the bridge. Take the second stairway down, just before the bridge, directly into our area. We will have a sign at the stairway. This avoids having to cross Naito on foot.

Pedestrian Access

Persons who can’t use stairs will need to cross Naito either at SW Main (or points north) or SW Columbia (or points south). There are lights at both the Main and Columbia crosswalks. There are no safe pedestrian crossings between these streets.


Potluck has been allowed the use of this garage since we were first moved to O’Bryant Square 21 years ago. It’s owned by the City and operated as a SmartPark garage by Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT).

Nearly since the beginning of our time here the ceiling has leaked water anytime it rained. It’s become worse over the years, sometimes taking up to an hour to duct tape towels to the concrete beams to keep water from dripping on our serving line. However, we’ve always been able to manage and never felt there was any danger to being there.

Last spring we began hearing rumors of a possible closure of the garage. Although we made it clear to PBOT that we would need some lead time if they were to close it that decision was made abruptly in late August citing safety concerns due to the leaks and disintegrating concrete. We were given one more Sunday before it closed to all users.

PBOT has an outside structural engineering firm contracted to do an analysis of the integrity of the garage, what it would take to fix it and whether there is any immediate safety hazard. Their report is due “around the end of the year”. We are hopeful this will come back with either an easy solution or a determination that there is no hazard to its use now.

If the garage stays closed passed March 1st our only alternative presently is to purchase and network together multiple pop-up canopies to cover the serving area. This will still leave guests out in the weather to eat. This is not what we want to do.


Portland Parks and Recreation (PP&R) has offered us this space as the only alternative they could come up with among their properties. It’s far from ideal. It’s a long way for some of our guests with disabilities and it means crossing a very busy arterial in Naito Parkway.

Fighting Hunger in Portland.

Rain or shine, 52 weeks a year, hundreds of needy people have a hot meal and a community gathering place because generous supporters like you. Understanding food is a human right and hunger is a human wrong. Every Sunday for twenty-five years Potluck in the Park volunteers have prepared and served healthy wholesome meals with dignity and kindness. The secret to Potluck in the Park’s staying power is the story of its people.  Our tenacious teams of career-volunteers have inspired thousands of other volunteers to donate their time, talent and money to fight hunger in Portland.  Their dedication and passion has made Potluck in the Park a touchstone for a community in crisis

hobo signs

1930’s Hobo Signs

During the Great Depression of the 1930’s “hobo signs” were scratched on pavement or fence posts in front of houses across the country. The symbol of the smiling cat meant, “Kindhearted Woman” – someone who could be counted upon for Smiling Cata friendly word and perhaps a warm meal. In hobo language it was a high complement; today it still is. Potluck in the Park has adopted the smiling cat to symbolize what we stand for: A safe haven, rain or shine. We have been serving warm meals to those in need since 1991.
25th Anniversary BBQCelebrating 25 Years!


BBQ + Resource Fair

Sunday August 28th
Fair: 11-4pm+  BBQ: 2pm
South Park Blocks

Potluck will be celebrating 25 years of service with another big BBQ and Resource Fair on Sunday, August 28th. This is a very special celebration – the last one was our 20th Anniversary in 2011. We will move to the South Park Blocks on the PSU campus for the day to have more room and shade and will be barbecuing on site. Note the special start time of 2pm this Sunday only.

Given the large number of expected guests for this event, we need your help.  Please visit the special Hands On Portland sign-up page that has been created just for the BBQ.
Please share this link via social media and with friends – we still have a large number of volunteer slots and the event is less than 2 weeks away! Please help us to fight hunger in portland at this special event.
There are 3 different shifts available: 
  • Set-Up, 9:00am – 1:00pm – 15 Volunteers needed to help us set up tables, chairs, canopies, etc for the Resource Fair & BBQ.
  • Meal Service, 1:00pm – 5:00pm – 80 Volunteers needed to run food from trucks to serving line, serve food, monitor garbage cans/recycling, and serve water to volunteers.
  • Break Down/Clean Up, 3:00pm – 6:30pm – 15 Volunteers needed to take down tables, chairs, canopies, sort items, recycle, sweep sidewalks and serve late arrivals.

Willamette Week Give Guide

A Great Success! 

Thank you to all who have participated in the 2016 Give Guide.  Your donations have exceeded our goals and contributed to another fantastic year at Potluck in the Park.


What is Give!Guide?

Willamette Week’s Give Guide (G!G) is Portland’s easiest path to year-end giving. G!G showcases small, medium and large organizations whose missions fall into eight categories: Animals, Civil & Human Rights, Creative Expression, Community, Education, Environment, Health & Wellness and Human Services. In thirteen years, G!G has raised over $16 million for hundreds of local nonprofits. Last year, WW readers gave $3,501,400 to 143 Portland organizations and the Oregon Cultural Trust.

Potluck in the Park is honored to be one of only 139 nonprofits in 8 categories, to be chosen to participate this year. The minimum gift can be as small as 10$ so it makes giving for almost everyone affordable. Please help fight hunger in Portland.

What are the “Big Give Days”?

Any donor who makes a minimum gift of $10 through Give!Guide (on days listed below) has an opportunity to be chosen at random to win a great incentive prize. Over the past few years, G!G has experienced significant giving on these days. Last year, these four days raised over $887,650 combined. Examples of incentives: a bicycle; a ping pong party ice cream party for 80; a case of distilled spirits.

Nov. 3 – Portland Trail Blazers – 2 lower-level tickets to 2 games and a signed jersey from C.J. McCollum.
Nov. 10 – Powells Books – $500 Shopping Spree.
Nov. 17 – Portland Thorns & Timbers – 4 tickets to a 2017 Portland Timbers home match with a team signed jersey and 4 scarves. 10 tickets to a 2017 Portland Thorns home match, postgame autograph passes and a team signed jersey. 10 tickets to a 2016 Portland Timbers2 home match.
Nov. 29 – Bike Gallery – Bike Giveaway.
Dec. 8 – Salt & Straw and Pip’s & Bounce – Salt & Straw ice cream party for 60 people at Pip’s & Bounce ping pong bar.
Dec. 15 – TBA

Visit our Facebook page for updates


The Skidmore Prize

Last year G!G raised $3,145,095 with 10,276 individual gifts. Every year, Willamette Week honors four Portlanders 35 and under who do fabulous work for local nonprofits by awarding them the Skidmore Prize. Winners must work at a local nonprofit, be 35 and under, and make $35,000 a year or less. This year there are 2 prizes (1500 & 500$) to the non-profit in each category with  the most donors 35 & under.

How do I participate?

It’s easy!  Just click.  Be watching for links to the 2017 Give!Guide coming in November of 2017.


Food For The Soul:
A Concert Benefiting Potluck in the Park

Mark your calendars now for Potluck in the Park’s annual fundraiser on Saturday, October 28, 2017, at the historic Tiffany Center in Portland, OR. Don’t miss this exciting evening of music and community involvement featuring performances by:

TOM GRANT and band
and more!

Click here to purchase tickets or learn more about this exciting event benefiting Potluck in the Park, a volunteer driven, grass roots, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which has been serving a free hot meal to anyone in need since 1991 every Sunday at O’Bryant Square in downtown Portland.

Margie BEmcee: Margie Boule

Tickets available at:
Buy Tickets NOW

Ticket pricing:
$75 -Silver level table seating, appetizers, family style dinner, two complimentary drink tickets, and concert
$45 -Theater concert seating in ballroom, includes appetizers, one complimentary drink ticket per guest, and concert

Event Details

  • Saturday, October 28, 2017
  • 6:00 PM | Doors & Cocktail Hour
  • 6:45 PM | Dinner
  • 7:00 PM | Entertainment Begins

  • Table and sponsorship options available. For more information, contact If you can’t attend, please consider making a donation.


    Location: TIFFANY CENTER
    1410 SW Morrison
    Portland, Oregon 97205

    $1000- Table Sponsor: Gold level table seating around stage for up to 10 people, appetizers, family style dinner, two complimentary drink tickets per guest, two bottles of wine for self serve at tables, and concert
    Tom GrantTom Grant, our musical director, has had nearly 50 years in the music business as a pianist, songwriter, singer (and lately) record label owner. In the 80’s, his smooth jazz records went to the top of the SJ charts where they stayed for weeks at a time. He has toured the world with his music, appeared on the Jay Leno show, was featured on CNN, recorded 27 of his own records/CDs and his original music can be heard in film and tv. Before his own recording career took off, Tom toured with drum legend Tony Williams. He also toured/recorded with jazz greats Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw and Charles Lloyd.
    Norman SylvesterNorman Sylvester was born in Bonita, Louisiana in 1945, his earliest musical influence came from hearing gospel singing in church, and blues greats BB King, Johnny Taylor & T Bone Walker coming from the Juke Joints on the back streets of town. After his family moved to Portland, Oregon, Norman’s first professional gig was in 1963 with Isaac Scott, and by the late 70s, he had sat in with Buddy Guy and Albert Collins, both of whom encouraged him to leave the trucking industry and devote himself to a full time career in music. He formed his current band, The Norman Sylvester Band that played the first Waterfront Blues Festival & opened for BB King in 1987. They have released 4 all original music albums and play regularly around the area.
    Marilyn KellerMarilyn Keller brings a special magic to the stage with her charming presence and flawless vocal stylings. Her musical roots are diverse. She joined Black Swan Classic Jazz Band in 1997, quickly establishing a loyal following in the Dixieland and Ragtime scene. She has also remained active in a wide variety of other performance ensembles and styles: The Don Latarski Group, Darrell Grant, Thara Memory, Tall Jazz, Tom Grant, Michael Allen Harrison, Disciples in Song, and the Augustana Jazz Quartet to name a few. Marilyn’s formative jazz training was as a member of the Mt. Hood Community College Vocal Jazz Ensemble and as the vocalist fronting the award-winning MHCC Jazz Lab Band. She is featured at the Jazz Worship Service at Augustana Lutheran Church every Sunday and can be seen frequently at restaurants, clubs, festivals and holiday events throughout the Pacific Northwest.
    Michele Van KleefMichele Van Kleef’s groove rock features her classically trained, soulful voice, ranging from the reminiscent sounds of Janis Joplin to the compelling melodies and pure tones of Joni Mitchell. Michele delivers a lively, yet touching musical performance with songs written from her heart that move the listener to feel what inspired her to write. Her music is based in storytelling with memorable melodies and sung with haunting vocals. Michele got her start in the music industry as a singer in the very successful, NW-based Indie band Calobo. They toured the country for over 6 years and shared the stage with Sara McLachlan, Train, Indigo Girls, Ani DiFranco and Jethro Tull. After Calobo, Michele joined Lazy Bones Recordings as Mackabella in Seattle.

    HaleyEven in the cluttered field of blues-inspired sirens, Haley Johnsen is not to be mistaken as just another one of the girls. A native Portlander and daughter of a drummer, Haley’s sound draws out the emotions of each note with impressive range, while her songwriting provides a candid glimpse at the joys and pains of young life. Her first EP, “Through the Blue,” is a playfully mastered farewell to lost love and youthful trysts. Her most recent single release “Feel the Water” is a step in a new direction instrumentally, while still possessing an emotional yet empowering atmosphere.


    Keep checking back for the evolving list of talented performers that Tom Grant is bringing together for this amazing event…

    Annual Free Christmas Dinner POTLUCK IN THE PARK


    Ballroom view of Christmas Dinner

    Each year Potluck in the Park hosts an annual
    free Christmas Dinner.
    Location is the Portland Art Museum.
    This year our meal will be served on Christmas EVE,
    Sunday, December 24

    Brother and Sister at Christmas DinnerMother and Daughter at Christmas Dinner

    We are honored to partner with Potluck in the Park to host a Free Christmas Dinner again this year.  When Potluck in the Park leadership approached the Museum three years ago to host the annual event, due to the closing of the YWCA, we knew it was something we wanted to do.  The Portland Art Museum aspires to be a resource for all and we are honored that our celebrated facilities and collections can be used to serve those most in need.   It is truly a unique opportunity for the Museum and Potluck in the Park to not only nourish bodies, but also souls.”  — Brian Ferriso


    We’re pleased to say that volunteer opportunities for our annual free Christmas Dinner fill up fast.  Be watching for the opening of registration, if you are not signed up to receive our newsletter – click here to sign up and you will be notified when registration for volunteering is open.


    How you can contribute:

    For baked goods, please use our contact form to let us know how you wish to contribute. Or you can donate directly to Potluck in the Park through our secure PayPal link, just click on the red DONATE NOW button at the top of the page.

    Our VOLUNTEERS speak out.

    Please take a few moments to watch this short video and learn more about Potluck in the Park.