According to a 2010 study published in the journal ‘Psychological Science,’ the cost of healthy food, including fruits and vegetables, has increased almost 200 percent since 1983. The cost of unhealthy foods, on the other hand,has increased at a much slower rate. The issue is challenging food banks across the nation to examine their sources of food and donor dollars to look for economical ways to increase the nutritional value of the food thatis made available to clients. Statistically, lower income groups have higher rates of obesity. And a startling 27 percent of Oregon Food Bank emergency food box recipients reported in 2010 that at least one member of theirhousehold has diabetes. This, of course, can be tied directly to diet and available food choices.“If you have $3 to feed yourself, your choices gravitate toward foods which give you the mostcalories per dollar,” says Adam Drewnowski, director of the Center of Public Health and Nutrition at the University of Washington.
“Not only are the empty calories cheaper, but the healthy foods are becoming more and more expensive. Freshvegetables and fruits are rapidly becoming luxury goods.”
The cost of food also becomes an issue for people in more isolated rural areas – or food deserts – where grocery stores are few and far between. A 2010 nationwide “Map the Meal Gap” study conducted by Feeding America identified two Oregon counties – Wheeler and Crook – as counties with the highest average cost of a meal in the nation. Clients in isolated, rural areas often share how they shy away from purchasing fruits and vegetables in favor of food with a longer shelf life because the closest grocery store may be more than 30 miles away. In response to this, Oregon Food Bank is putting strategies and programs in place to bring healthier food to more people – a trend that is echoed by food banks across the nation. These include our Learning Garden andNutrition Education Cooking Matters™ classes, community food security outreach like our FEAST (Food, Education, Agriculture, Solutions, Together) events, and an emphasis on securing more perishable food, like fruits and vegetables. “We’re doing everything we can to become experts with the distribution of perishables,” saysMike Moran, OFB’s food resource development manager. “Thanks to more partnerships with the agricultural community, retailers through our Fresh Alliance program and expanded storage capacity, OFB procured and distributed 57 percent more fresh produce to communitiesthroughout Oregon this year. And we want to increase that year-over-year – it’s our most aggressive growth goal.”
OFB donors are also helping to make nutritious food more available to those who need it. Part of a $50,000 grant from Bank of America was used to purchase three truckloads of fresh produce. The remainder allowed us to purchase healthier food that was more expensive to supplement our donated food supply.
Everyone – regardless of income level –deserves the right to eat a nutritious meal. And with resourceful, strategic thinking by our partners, donors and staff, Oregon Food Bank is working hard to ensure clients have access to food that will nourish their body, as well as their future.
Imagine that your family loses part or all of its income and suddenly you find that you can’t pay all of your bills in full. You change your lifestyle, use your savings, sell your assets and use your dwindling credit to make ends meet. You face choices no one should ever have to make because of your limited budget. You choose toilet paper over laundry soap, electricity over food, and life-saving medication for a family member over essential, preventative medical care for yourself. Sometimes you skip meals so your children have enough to eat.
Too many of our neighbors face choices like these every day. The goal of Oregon Food Bank’s annual Voices project is to bring attention to some of their stories. In October and November of 2010, more than 50 people attended our focus groups in Albany, Beaverton, Cottage Grove, Glide and Portland.
“I got laid off at the beginning of this year after I was one of their best employees for six years. I’ve put out hundreds of resumes and gotten some interviews, but I haven’t been hired yet. I raise a little girl and it’s been hard. We got to the point where we were eating one meal a day. My friend told me about this food pantry and it has really helped. Nowwe’re at two or three meals a day.”Wesley. Portland, OR.
With your support, people like Welsey and his daughter are being helped by the Oregon Food Bank Network. Thank you for your continued support ...because no one should be hungry.
Thanks to generous community support, we are able to Fight hunger. Feed hope.
Oregon Food Bank recently completed an $8.3 million capital campaign to create OFB West, a permanent food bank facility dedicated to fighting hunger in Washington County and across Oregon. "We are deeply grateful for the foresight of OFB's board of directors, the leadership of the OFB West capital campaign cabinet and the generosity of our donors and the community for making Oregon Food Bank West a reality," said Rachel Bristol, CEO, Oregon Food Bank.
Thank you for your generous support. The OFB West capital campaign is complete!