Increase Food Security in Oregon

by Oregon Food Bank, Inc.
Volunteers unload food delivery for Clay Street.
Volunteers unload food delivery for Clay Street.

Pantries Say New Service Helps Improve Efficiency

It's delivery day at Clay Street Table in southwest Portland, and volunteers are unloading and shelving thousands of pounds of food. Every week, the program serves hundreds of people who live in downtown Portland. As Oregon Food Bank's truck prepares to leave, Rev. Dr. Paul Davis thanks the driver and comments again on what a blessing the delivery provides. 

"Many of our volunteers experience homelessness or live in nearby subsidized housing and don't have cars. We were renting vehicles, but that's money that can now be better spent," says Davis. Clay Street Table and other agencies also say they are able to make better use of the sometimes limited volunteer time. Your generous support allowed Oregon Food Bank to expand our metro area delivery in fall 2016. As a result, 29 key partner agencies now benefit from this service. 

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Health providers help patients w/ food insecurity
Health providers help patients w/ food insecurity

You make it possible for families to change their diet, habits with fruits and vegetables

About a dozen people are lined up outside OHSU’s Richmond Clinic in Southeast Portland. Nearby, OHSU and Oregon Food Bank employees along with volunteers fill tables with fresh vegetables and fruits. At 4 p.m. the first person in line eagerly steps forward to choose from a bounty of lettuce, zucchini, apples and much more.

This summer, Oregon Food Bank partnered with OHSU Richmond Clinic for the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Partnerships for Health. The program offered 18 weeks of subsidized boxes of locally grown produce. Everyone involved in the program had screened positive for food insecurity. The fruits and vegetables they received were grown on Oregon Food Bank’s community farm with the help of volunteers and Grow Portland.

“We’re building on the work of a pilot program at Multnomah County’s Mid-County Medical Center,” says Dr. Brian Frank of OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond. “We hope to show that simple interventions can change eating habits.” Partners in the project are conducting an in-depth evaluation to discover if there is a medical benefit to prescribe healthy foods to patients in need.

In addition to the CSA, patients received access to cooking classes and food education. Your support of Oregon Food Bank allows us to be part of these community solutions to hunger. 

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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. 

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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 oregonfoodbank.org/voices. 

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 oregonfoodbank.org/factors

 

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Organization Information

Oregon Food Bank, Inc.

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.oregonfoodbank.org
Project Leader:
Lauren Zielinski
Portland, OR United States
$135,764 raised of $150,000 goal
 
725 donations
$14,236 to go
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