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Gov Hits the Road for Hunger Awareness Week

April 27, 2009

Ontario, OR – It's Hunger Awareness Week in Oregon through May 3, and food bank locations are scrambling to meet record demand in many areas of the state. To help drum up donations, on Thursday and Friday Gov. Ted Kulongoski will hop aboard an Oregon Food Bank truck to run a multi-city delivery route to eastern Oregon.

Peter Lawson runs the Southeast Oregon Regional Food Bank in Ontario, which serves about 1,000 households a month in Malheur and Harney counties. This year, the annual hunger awareness campaign arrived just in time, he says.

"The economic impact, particularly in these rural areas, is hard-felt. Harney County currently has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state - near 20 percent."

Lawson says the number of people requesting emergency food boxes is up about 30 percent in his area. The governor will stop at food banks in Portland, the Dalles, Pendleton and LaGrande on Thursday, and in Ontario on Friday.

Food demand typically spikes in the summer, Lawson explains, as children no longer have access to reduced-price meals at school.

"What we try to provide is three to five days' worth of meals for a given-size family. The intent is to provide a balance: meat and vegetables and proteins. Many of our pantries really love to have fresh produce on hand, too."

One way people can help is to plant a little extra in their garden or on their farm, Lawson suggests, with the idea of donating it to a local food bank or homeless shelter at harvest time.

More information about Hunger Awareness Week is available online at www.oregonfoodbank.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR