Recently. I completed a grant application that requested an outline of how WE are working collaboratively in the non-profit realm to achieve our mission. This process gave me the chance to reflect on the three simple words in the title of this project. The rate of food insecurity continues to rise in Oregon. But with the support of a strong community, we continue to be hopeful. Financial support allows us to purchase food to balance the nutrition of an emergency food box. And as the cost to meet the overwhelming demand continues to rise, we are grateful for your continued donations of support.
With limited resources and the sheer quantity of non-profit organizations in Oregon, the question is valid and strategic. I readily answered the funder's question, which reinforced my own belief that by supporting our efforts, we will eliminate hunger and its root causes.
Here are some recent highlights of the collaborative work done by departments at OFB and the community:
Fresh Alliance, an OFB partnership with local grocery stores, recently celebrated 10 years of work. The Fresh Alliance program works with grocery stores to collect food that is past the "sell-by" date but still "useable." This collaboration is a win/win for retailers and OFB. The Oregon Food Bank Network gets highly nutritious product and grocers reduce their waste costs. The past 10 years efforts have provided nearly 33 million pounds of food for the Network!
A major bill that Gov. Kitzhaber recently signed, HB 4068, will allow Oregon food banks to distribute fresh-caught salmon that otherwise might be thrown away. Known as "bycatch," the law applies to fish that are caught incidentally when commercial fishing boats haul in species other than the ones they are going after. Typically, that means salmon caught while fishing for whiting, according to Mike Moran, OFB food resource manager. "In a good year, it could mean 20 to 30 tons of fish -- 160,000 servings getting out to people," Moran said.
Locally, Oregon Food Bank's Learning Garden Program has been taking advantage of a new greenhouse that was built at the headquarters in NE Portland. Plant starts grown in the greenhouse are being distributed to low-income residents at farmer's markets. These seed starts, if planted and harvested, will provide over 6,000 pounds of fresh produce to food-insecure residents.
And lastly, when a community comes together to discuss how it can build a healthier, more sustainable food system, amazing things happen. Relationships with local growers flourish. Backyard gardens and new farmers markets sprout. And neighbors learn that, by working together, they can create a stronger local food system that takes advantage of the resources within their community.
For nearly two years, through our Food-Education-Agriculture-Solutions-Together (FEAST) program, Oregon Food Bank has worked to promote more equitable and resilient food systems. The program has engaged and educated Oregonians across the state with informed, facilitated discussions about the role food and agricultural resources play in their communities. OFB held its first FEAST event in Cannon Beach in September of 2009. Since then, nine additional communities across Oregon have held events with 50 to 60 community members participating in each session
We continue to collaborate, ask tough questions and work towards our mission: To eliminate hunger and its root causes... because no one should be hungry. Thank you for your support -- we could not do what we do without you!
Need and distribution of emergency food continues at an elevated level but thanks to generous people like you the Oregon Food Bank Network continues to help those in need in Oregon and Clark County, Wash.
Every year our advocacy department examines the root causes of hunger, speaking with individuals faced with food insecurity. Through OFB's root cause work, specifically, the Hunger Factors Assessment (HFA), we know that approximately 33% of those receiving emergency food are children.
Here is just one report provided by our Voices project.
"I have a hard time trying to explain to my daughter why people on TV have big fancy meals. I tell her TV meals are make-believe, 'Those aren't real children, those aren't real people, that not real Thanksgiving dinner... it's all fake and plastic.' I feel bad because I can't give her what all the other kids have. So I just don't eat, because I don't ever want her to fell like she's hungry or starving."
Every day, I feel guilty if I eat three bites of food in the whole day because I feel like I'm taking food away from my daughter. If I eat and then I can't feed her tomorrow, I'm taking food away from my child. It's more important that she eats. She's my baby. She knows that if there's any food in the house, she can have it right away.
But now when she sees that mommy isn't eating, she mimics me. I'll take a small bite and I'll chew on it for 10 minutes, and she only takes the three bites that I'm taking. And that's real hard. She says, 'Momma, we have to save the food; and I tell her, 'No, we've got plenty of food. Just eat your plate.' She says, 'Mommy, you've got to eat; and I lie and say, 'I am eating.'
Randie, Tillamook, Oregon.
30 percent of households with children that receive food from a partner agency in the Oregon Food Bank Network report cutting or reducing the size of a child's meal. Of those, 37 percent do this almost every month.
This is the harsh reality of food insecuirty in Oregon. Through your support we can continue to keep a steady supply of nutritious emergency food and help to alleviate the burden for people like Randie.
Thank you for your continued interest and support.
Happy New Year.
It is all over the news, there is an unprecedented level of hunger in Oregon. The national magazine, Parade ran an article about hunger in Oregon. No matter how you slice the data, it is true, food insecurity in Oregon is very high.
While we understand the demand is a constant and ever increasing, we have hope because of donors like you. We have hope that we can help those facing food insecurity throughout the state of Oregon and Clark County, Wash.
The months of November and December are very busy at Oregon Food Bank in terms of emergency food coming in and going out. When we see the level of community participation in helping people who are hungry, we are humbled. Our docks are busy receiving donations from the food industry as well as from individuals who organized food drives and want to see how many pounds their efforts raised and hear about the impact their efforts will have on the community. The outflow is also encouraging because all our efforts to acquire and distribute emergency food is working. Partner agencies picking up larger loads means more families will have the emergency food they so desperately need.
The holidays are a great time to reflect on the amazing community we live in. We are all struggling and as a community we can help ...because no one should be hungry.
Thank you for your tireless efforts.
For the first time ever, distribution of emergency food boxes in Oregon and southwest Washington topped l million as growing levels of long-term unemployment forced more and more people to fall into poverty and to seek emergency food.
As daunting as the numbers may be, we did it. The Oregon Food Bank Network was able to meet the staggering demand for food due to record levels of USDA commodities and the generosity of the entire community.
The Oregon Food Bank Network of 20 regional food banks and 923 partner agencies provided a record 1,024,000 emergency food boxes- a 12% increase over the previous year- to families in need from July 1, 2010 to June 30,2011. Since the beginning of the Great Recession, food box distribution has increased 30 percent. The OFB Network now distributes almost a quarter-of- a- million more food boxes annually than it did before the recession.
In tough economic times, helping people in need is more important than ever. It will continue to take the support of the entire community to meet the growing demand for food. So, thank you for your continued support in our effort to eliminate hunger and its root causes.
Please note: On October 19, GlobalGiving.org is matching at 30% all online donations up to $1,000 per donor per project! There is $100,000 available in matching funds starting at 12:01 am EDT.
Family economic security in America increased steadily for several decades during the last century. Group participants in a focus group in Portland, Oregon feel like they are increaslingly exposed to harsh risks.
Denise who resides in Portland says, "I've never needed help before. I've been lucky up to this point in my life. But here I am, 15 years before retirement, facing the biggest financial stuggle of my life. We may lose our home."
Denised wanted to share her story with legislators through OFB's focus groups because she is concerned about the direction our state is headed. She once thought her famly's economic future was safe. She owned her home and had retirement savings. "I was an optician and had my own optical shop," she said. "People came to me to get their glasses fixes. We also had a mobile optical service for nursing home residents. I was making a decent living and helped a lot of people on Medicaid and medical assistance. Then I had to close my business when some of my clients couldn't return to me because of changes in the Oregon Health Plan."
"I never thought that I would have to ask for help at this stage in my life," she said. "In the last two years I'vve been laid off from two jobs due to the economy and cutbacks. My husband and I aren't home at the same time, because he worksnights and I am on the go a lot, trying to find employment. I've already had to take money from my 403(k) to pay for bills. I've had to prioritize keeping the lights on over food. So, I'm grateful for help from the food pantry.
"I just want to thank you for listening to my story. "Change can happen if we all pull together, share our concerns and love one another. Change could start right here with us."
This is just one story highlighting the changing face of hunger. It is difficult, however with the help of donors like you, OFB is able to purchase and distribute food, throughout the state, to those in need. Thank you for your support of the community.
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Corporate Relations Developer