Recession takes its toll on families
Latest USDA hunger report shows continuing hunger crisis in Oregon
PORTLAND, Ore. (Nov. 15, 2010) – Hunger in Oregon continued to hover far above the national average as the Great Recession battered Oregon’s economy, according to the 2009 hunger report released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Food-insecure households had difficulty providing enough food for their family because they lacked resources. About a third of food-insecure households suffer very low food security (hunger), which means they cut or skipped meals, sometimes for whole days, because they didn’t have enough money or other resources for food.
“No one should be hungry,” said Rachel Bristol, CEO, Oregon Food Bank. “Hunger affects a child’s ability to learn and a worker’s ability to be productive. Ultimately, it affects everyone in our society. Working together, we can eliminate hunger and its root causes,” said Bristol. “It’s not only the right thing to do, it makes economic sense.”
“The bad economy has taken a hard toll on Oregonians. The unemployment rate remains high, along with home foreclosures and other indicators that families are struggling,” said Patti Whitney-Wise, executive director, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon. “This report shows us that Oregonians are choosing to go without food to pay for needs such as housing, healthcare and childcare.”
These numbers are the harsh reality but with your assistance Oregon Food Bank has been able to distribute a record number of pounds of food for hunger relief. Thank you for supporting our efforts ...because no one should be hungry.
Did you know that Oregon Food Bank was created in the early 1980s when Oregon was in a bad recession? The economic downturn was fueled by timber mill closures and government layoffs; unemployment was at 12 percent. At the time, we served 200,000 people annually. Today, unemployment in the state remains above 10 percent. And, the OFB Network distributed more than 900,000 emergency food boxes last year in Oregon and Clark County, Wash. The demand for emergency food has grown over the years but, fortunately, so have our programs and donations of food, money and volunteer time.
Donors, like you, have allowed us to meet the demand for emergency food through specific product purchases to round out the emergency food boxes. During the spring/summer we also supplement the non-perishable goods with produce from gardens throughout the state.
As reliance on the OFB Network has grown we have had to work strategically to meet the needs. One area that is flourishing is our Learning Garden program. Oregon Food Bank directly manages two gardens that not only provide produce but also teach the community how to be self-reliant. "The though economy has renewed people's interest in gardening," says Rebeca Siplak, OFB Learning Garden program coordinator. "I'm excited for the future of the program as more and more people learn to garden. Each family that can grow its own food brings us one step closer to creating a strong, local, sustainable food system, eventually eliminating hunger."
OFB's garden education programs address the root causes of hunger through improved nutrition, community food security and self-reliance. For many clients, the produce they receive from the Oregon Food Bank Network local partner agencies is their only source of produce. They just can't afford to buy it at the grocery store.
Our mission is to end the root causes of hunger and with your support we continue to aim for that goal through education, advocacy, and food distribution. Thank you!
Despite reports that the economic contraction is easing, partner agencies are serving as many clients now as they did when the need rose two years ago. In Oregon, the jobless rate last month was 10.6 percent. Washington state saw 9.5 percent. The picture in Clark County, a county the Oregon Food Bank Network serves, the picture was much worse. The unadjusted jobless rate from February 2009- March 2010 was 12.3 percent. Across the Columbia River in Multnomah County, the rate was 10.3.
Partner Agencies, those serving the people in need, are grateful to donors like you, who help ease the strain of the increased need for emergency food. Andrea Walker, chairman and executive director of One Life, an Oregon Food Bank partner agency, says the pantry has enough food to serve its clients, but the need for food assistance in the area remains great. And Timothy Norris, assistant shelter coordinator for City Team Ministries, says that whether clients "come from the street or nearby housing, the number of people seeking help is up." But, he says, the agency is doing well and has survived the economic downturn, thanks to the community and food grants from OFB." Food Grants are made possible through donations on this site. Thank you!
"We anticipate that people in our service area will feel the effects of this recession for the next several years," said Rachel Bristol, OFB CEO. "It takes time for people to get back on their feet once they've lost their jobs, their health care and their homes. We need your continued support."
Thank you for supporting the community through food purchase. Oregon Food Bank could not do what we do without your support.
Hunger, once again, is on the rise in Oregon and southwest Washington. The most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture hunger report, analyzing Census Bureau data, shows Oregon's food insecurity and hunger rates increased significantly. Oregon now holds the unenviable position of having the second-highest hunger rate in the nation.
In these challenging times, we are especially grateful for your heart-warming generosity. In December 2009, we were able to purchase 12,000 pounds of most needed foods due to your contributions. Thank you.
High unemployment and growing foreclosures forced a record number of people in Oregon and Clark County, Wash., to seek emergency food in fiscal year 2008-09. Distribution of emergency food boxes throughout the Oregon Food Bank Network skyrocketed to historic highs, according to the OFB Network's annual year-end report (July 1, 2008-June 30,2009) released 9/10/09. Distribution of emergency food boxes increased more than 13% from 792,000 to 897,000 in 2008-09- an annual increase of 105,000 additional emergency food boxes. "This is unprecedented," CEO, Rachel Bristol emphasizes. "It's by far the largest number of emergency food boxes the OFB Network has ever distributed in a single fiscal year." Throughout the OFB Network, agencies reported seeing many, many new faces... people seeking help for the first time in their lives... people who previously had good jobs and never thought they would need help. "We ask for the community's continued support," Bristol says. "September is national Hunger Action Month, and we encourage everyon eto donate food, funds and time to help fight hunger."
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