from katu: Many Portland residents spent their Christmas serving the homeless, hungry and needy. Fred Gartner says he’s been coming to the Union Gospel Mission for almost 40 years. He says the holiday meal isn’t just food for the body, but food for the soul. “For people who don’t have families, companionship is very important,” said Gartner. “More so than people realize.” The need isn’t just among the homeless. “We’ve seen need skyrocket this year. We’re up 20 percent in meals over the past two years,” said Stacy Kean with the Union Gospel Mission. “One of the areas of growth that we’ve seen really expand is in food boxes. So there are people who have a place to live but they can’t afford food.” Across town at the YWCA, Portland musician Tom Grant helped the Potluck in the Park ring in its holiday meal service. Last year, the potluck served more than 1,000 meals. This year volunteers are planning to serve an additional 200. The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank also handed out free supplies Sunday.