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The list of accusers against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh continues to swell. Also on the Tuesday rundown: Hurricane Florence SNAPs North Carolina to attention on the importance of food benefits; plus a new report says young parents need better supports.

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USDA Report: Oregon Only State to See Rise in Hunger Rates

The rate of food insecurity was more than 16 percent between 2013 and 2015 in Oregon, according to a USDA report. (PublicDomanPictures/Pixabay)
The rate of food insecurity was more than 16 percent between 2013 and 2015 in Oregon, according to a USDA report. (PublicDomanPictures/Pixabay)
September 15, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. – The only state to see a significant increase in food insecurity rates since the Great Recession is Oregon, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The report said more than 16 percent of Oregon households between 2013 and 2015 reported difficulties affording meals; that's up from the previous three-year period, when about 13.5 percent of households struggled to afford meals.

Matt Newell-Ching, public affairs director at Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, said unemployment figures have improved over the past few years, but the lack of affordable housing in the state makes it hard for families to put food on the table.

"Even if people are returning to work, that's still not making up for the increases in cost of living," said Newell-Ching. "So, if you've got a choice between paying for your rent or paying for food, oftentimes that means a family chooses to skip a meal, or chooses less nutritious food that might be cheaper."

He said Oregon has the ninth-highest hunger rate in the country – 6.6 percent of Oregonians experience "very low food security," meaning they've had to skip meals in order to get by.

A study by Oregon State University found renters are six times more likely to be food insecure than homeowners, and African-American families in Oregon are more likely to be renters. According to Newell-Ching, that is part of the reason 44 percent of those families struggled at some point in 2015 to afford food.

His group is convinced the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps, and other social-service programs, need to be reconsidered to ensure they are serving families' needs.

"'Supplemental' assumes that families are receiving other income that's supposed to factor into how much money they're spending on food," he explained. "It's not meant to carry a family's food budget throughout the course of a month."

He said families with food stamps are typically able to cover about three weeks of their food budget in the course of a month.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR