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PNS Daily Newscast - September 24 


Update: A second accuser emerges with misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavenaugh. Also on the Monday rundown: we will take you to a state where more than 60 thousand kids are chronically absent; and we will let you know why the rural digital divide can be a two-fold problem.

Daily Newscasts

OR Food Bank Network Survey: Needs High, but Leveling Off

September 22, 2010

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Oregon Food Bank Network (OFB) surveys food recipients to learn more about the circumstances that prompt them to seek emergency food assistance. The latest survey, released on Tuesday, shows the need is still high, although in some counties it appears to be leveling off.

Almost one-third (31 percent) of those surveyed said long-term unemployment is the reason they need food, compared to 22 percent two years ago. And 73 percent said they live on annual incomes below the federal poverty level ($22,050 for a family of four). OFB Executive Director Rachel Bristol says temporary hikes in federal food programs have been helpful to many – but that might not be the case by winter.

"The food stamp increase, the USDA commodity increases, expire September 30. And, as more people deplete their unemployment benefits and you look at the revenue situation for the State of Oregon, things are not looking pretty."

Bristol is worried that gridlock in Congress will delay reauthorization of some of the emergency food increases, as well as the Child Nutrition Act that covers school breakfasts and lunches for lower-income students.

A bright spot in the findings is that food donations are up, from individuals and retailers. Bristol says the emergency boxes are more nutritious and contain more fresh foods, and the food pantries have been able to be a bit more generous in their assistance.

"For the first time in decades, the average household was able to get four food boxes instead of three. That's only 20 or 25 days worth of food, compared to 15 or so - but, you know, it makes a difference."

A food box can feed a family of three or four for several days. The Food Bank Network gave out 917,000 of them in the past year, a two-percent increase over the previous year. Counties with the highest need were Coos, Curry and Washington.

The hunger survey results are online at www.oregonfoodbank.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR