Why do so many families seek emergency food? Long-term unemployment, persistent underemployment, inadequate SNAP benefits and the high cost of food, gasoline, utilities and rent are the leading reasons people seek emergency food, according to the 2012 biennial Hunger Factors Assessment released today by the Oregon Food Bank Network of Regional Food Banks. The OFB Network of Regional Food Banks conducts the Hunger Factors Assessment (HFA) every two years. This year, 4,599 emergency-food recipients at 162 pantries in Oregon and Clark County, Wash., completed the survey. The survey also shows the poorest of the poor are getting poorer. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (61 percent) reported a drop in monthly income during the past two years. Nearly, 75 percent reported incomes below the federal poverty line (gross income of $23,050 for a family of four).“We were faithful donors to the food pantry before we went down to a one-person income. Thank you for helping us during this difficult time,” said one survey respondent.
When asked: “What happened to bring you to a food pantry?”• More than half (56 percent) of the respondents said they ran out of SNAP benefits (“food stamps”). That compares to 50 percent in 2010.
• Almost half (48 percent) of the respondents cited high food cost as one reason they needed emergency food, compared to 44 percent in 2010. “SNAP limits need to be raised to adjust for higher food costs,” wrote one respondent. “The cost of food has gone up, but the amount of SNAP stays the same,” stated another respondent.• 40 percent cited high gasoline costs, a sharp jump from 29 percent in 2010.“Gas and health care are too expensive,” one respondent wrote.
“The 2012 Hunger Factors Assessment results clearly show the continuing fallout of the massive job losses caused by the recession and the need for adequate support for SNAP,” said Wadsworth. “Congress’s proposed cuts to SNAP would greatly increase the number of Oregonians seeking emergency food and would simply overwhelm our network.”
The bright spot: The one bright spot of the survey shows that even though the hole is deep, some people are beginning to dig out. Households reporting at least one member with a full-time job increased from 22 percent in 2010 to 27 percent in 2012.
Oregon Food Bank’s Board of Directors has appointed Susannah Morgan, executive director of Food Bank of Alaska, as CEO of Oregon Food Bank, effective Nov. 5, 2012. The OFB Board selected Morgan after a thorough national search, following the retirement of Rachel Bristol, June 30.
“Susannah brings 13 years of extensive experience in the nonprofit sector and strong leadership in food-banking in the national arena,” said Arnie Gardner, chair, OFB Board of Directors. “She has the passion, vision and skills to build on OFB’s successes and to move OFB forward during a time of tremendous need and opportunity. We are thrilled to welcome her to Oregon Food Bank and look forward to introducing her to our community.”
Nearly 49 million people in America face hunger. That is 1 in 6 of the U.S. population – including more than 1 in 5 children. In Oregon, nearly 1 in 5 face food insecurity with 33% of those being children.
Don’t let their struggles go unheard. Join Oregon Food Bank and speak out against hunger.
30 ways in 30 days to fight hunger
Volunteer. Become a monthly sustainer. Donate produce from your garden. Read a book about hunger. Register to vote. Skip a meal and donate funds. Host a hunger banquet in your home. Tell your hunger story. Tweet.
Those are just a few of the many ways you can take action to fight hunger during September’s Hunger Action Month.
“We encourage everyone to get involved in fighting hunger during this nationwide campaign,” says Laura Golino de Lovato, director of development, marketing and communications at Oregon Food Bank. “We’ve posted 30 doable ways to take action. Are you a writer? An organizer? An advocate? A donor? A doer? Pick your way to help based on your talent and interest. There’s something for everyone."
“No matter how you choose to help, your pledge makes a big difference,” says Golino de Lovato. Oregon Food Bank distributes donated food throughout a statewide network of 20 regional food bank serving more than 923 nonprofit, hunger-relief agencies throughout Oregon and Clark County, Wash., and works to eliminate the root causes of hunger through nutrition and garden education, advocacy and community food security work.
Together we are making a difference! Thank you.
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.
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Corporate Relations Developer