Increase Food Security in Oregon

by Oregon Food Bank, Inc.
Teens volunteering at Harvest Share
Teens volunteering at Harvest Share

Thanks to you, North Portland youth work to create a better future in their community and beyond. 

Every Wednesday night you'll find a small group of teenagers gathered at New Columbia Apartments. They could be playing video games or hanging out with friends, but this group is discussing food insecurity and helping youth in the community. 

The weekly meetings began early last summer, in an effort to learn more about teens who face hunger and what they do to cope. With helpl from Janus Youtht, New Columbia staff, Home Forward and the Urban Institute, Oregon Food Bank met with teens to learn how they would engage youth and alleviate food insecurity. 

"Youth empowerment is essential to create change," says Felix, a teen living at New Columbia. Weeks of discussion led to the realization that the teens needed more fresh, healthy food and a safe space to share their problems. They now have that, along with a dedicated staff member to help coordinate activities and nurture leadership skills. 

Free produce is given out monthly through the Harvest Share program and more families are connecting with their community. "Because it's open to everyone, Harvest Share has taken away some of the shame you feel when you don't have enough," says Mayra, a New Columbia teen. 

Thanks to your support, the teens hope to help create a program manual that other communities can use to help youth become more involved. 


Woman receiving donations at Harvest Share
Woman receiving donations at Harvest Share

"I live with my husband, my son, my daughter and three teenagers that cannot be at their homes because of some difficult circumstances," says Christine from Drain. "You know it is really expensive to feed so many teenagers." Christine also says other kids in the nieghborhood come over because they don't have food. "I receive SNAP benefits and it helps, but I can't claim other people's kids even though I'm the one feeding them." Our community has many people like Christine. Oregon Food Bank's VOICES project illuminates real stories of hunger in Oregon and Clark County, Washington. 

"My husband works full time at the mill and we spend as much as he makes on food. There's a lot of times my husband and I don't eat so that the kids can eat. Really, we all skip meals sometimes," she adds. 

Your generous support gives voice to our neighbors facing hunger and helps them get through life's challenges. Read the 2016 report at 

Child picking out food at a Portland pantry
Child picking out food at a Portland pantry

Oregon Food Bank recently wrapped up our 2015 Hunger Factors Assessment, a survey of more than 5,000 people who visit food pantries. The survey helps paint a broader picture of why people seek food assistance. 

This year's survey results paint a mixed picture. The number of households who report cutting kids' meals has dropped from 37% in 2012 to 31% this year. Households where someone is unemployed and looking for work dropped to 16% compared to 23% in 2012. However, the number of households receiving SNAP benefits is steady at 58% compared to 62% three years ago. Households also continue to struggle to break the cycle of poverty; 72% report incomes below the federal poverty level. 

A bright spot in the report shows that food pantries make a significant difference in the lives of the people they serve. About 80% of respondents indicated that they can meet their food needs for the month with a visit to a pantry, while 52% of those who had previously visited a pantry said they were able to prepare healthier meals. Your support helped facilitate this report. To read more visit

"I may be poor, but I will not go hungry!"
"I may be poor, but I will not go hungry!"

A line of people stretched through the Park Blocks in the middle of the Portland State University campus. Passers-by might have thought they were signing up for classes or waiting to buy concert tickets. But the people in this line were waiting for free fruits and vegetables provided by Harvest Share, an Oregon Food Bank program.

Portland college students going hungry? It shouldn't have to be that way.

Believe it or not, hunger is a constant for many students who are facing the cost of rising tuition and housing. But thanks to your support, Oregon Food Bank was able to connect with PSU’s Committee for Improving Student Food Security, and now we're improving these students’ access to nutritious food. 

Your contributions to Oregon Food Bank are what make programs like this possible. Every dollar you donate to Oregon Food Bank stays in Oregon and Clark County, WA, and goes to help people like these students who are facing hunger.

Wonderful things happen when we all pitch in as a community. Thank you so much for your donations, and for helping to nourish the bodies and minds of tomorrow's leaders!



As neighbors and members of the same communities, we share many of the same hopes and fears and we all want what’s best for our families. One of the fundamental differences between us is that some of us know where our next meal is coming from and some do not. One in six Oregonians face food insecurity. They struggle silently and make heart-wrenching decisions that nobody should have to make. The need for food is essential and immediate. Without the basic security of knowing when you will eat next it is difficult to focus on anything else. The daily fight to survive can consume your life.

Meet Felicia. 

Felicia lives in Coos Bay Oregon and is grateful for your generosity.

"I've really noticed the difference in my skin and body since I got poor.  It seems like such a contradiction, but I gained weigh being homeless.  I don't even look like me anymore.  I've always been a person who was really conscious and careful about what I put in my body.  I know what I'm eating now is not good food, but my alternative is to eat nothing.

I lost my job and it only takes about three months for everything to go crazy.  All of a sudden you're struggling.  I was a web developer and I worked for a company that just up and moved to Tennessee.  They said, "If you guys want to move to Tennessee, then make your way there and we'll give you an interview."  Not even a job, just an interview.  How were we going to make our way to Tennessee?

I’m starting all over.  I went from a nice salary to a minimum wage job at a call center.  I'm grateful, because there are people who don't have that, but at the same time my health issues are increasing because I have no money."

Felicia participated in Oregon Food Bank's Voices Project.  It takes courage to stand up and tell your story so that others might better understand what it means to live with food insecurity.  We want to thank the women and men who decided to share their thoughts and experiences with us.  Their stories provide us with valuable insight and help us better accomplish our mission to eliminate hunger and its root causes ... because no one should be hungry.



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Organization Information

Oregon Food Bank, Inc.

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Lauren Zielinski
Portland, OR United States
$135,699 raised of $150,000 goal
723 donations
$14,301 to go
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