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Hunger Among Ore. Families Down, But Single Mothers Still Struggle

One in seven Oregon households struggled to put food on the table at some point last year, according to a recent Gallup poll. (Melodi2/Morguefile)
One in seven Oregon households struggled to put food on the table at some point last year, according to a recent Gallup poll. (Melodi2/Morguefile)
July 7, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - One in seven households in Oregon struggled to afford food last year, according to a new survey conducted by Gallup. Although more than 14 percent of families still struggled with hunger at some point last year, the rate has been steadily decreasing since the Great Recession. In 2010, one in five families was food insecure.

Matt Newell-Ching, Public Affairs Director at Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon said SNAP benefits, or food stamps, could be the reason more Oregonians are putting meals on the table.

"Since 2014, Oregon's been doing a little bit better than the rest of the country," he said. "One of the reasons we think that's the case is because Oregon has a relatively high participation rate in nutrition programs like SNAP."

Oregon's rate of food insecurity is below the national average of 16 percent. The state's hunger rate is higher in rural areas than in urban areas.

Single mothers have been especially hard-hit since the economic downturn. Oregon State University research said that about one-half of single-mother households struggled in 2014 to provide food for their families. Newell-Ching said the high cost of child care is a major problem for single, working mothers.

"Think about a mom who has worked all day, put in shifts at one, maybe two jobs, coming home and putting their kids to bed, making sure that her kids are well-fed and, in so doing, skipping a meal," he added. "I mean, that's really the face of hunger we're talking about in Oregon."

Newell-Ching adds that, along with single mothers, many of the people who are experiencing hunger are people with disabilities who are unable to work and seniors on fixed incomes.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR