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Funds Needed to Tackle Growing Hunger Issue in Oregon

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One in eight Oregonians is food insecure, often relying on local food pantries for meals. (wittco.gmbh/Flickr)
One in eight Oregonians is food insecure, often relying on local food pantries for meals. (wittco.gmbh/Flickr)
 By Eric Tegethoff - Producer, Contact
May 28, 2019

SALEM, Ore. – Anti-hunger advocates are hoping lawmakers will continue their investment in the state's food banks.

The Oregon Hunger Response Fund invests in the state's 21 regional food banks' capacity to reach members of the community.

Oregon Food Bank is seeking $4.2 million – the same amount the fund received last biennium.

Melissa Carlson-Swanson, branch manager of the Oregon Food Bank Tillamook County Services, says her agency is seeing an increase in households that need food assistance.

She says the Hunger Response Fund helped the branch invest in a truck to get to underserved members in the county.

"Without these funds, we would not have the capacity to be able to meet the needs at their level that we're meeting them now," she stresses.

The Hunger Response Fund also helps the food bank network collect and distribute resources statewide, and with outreach from regional food banks on how to access resources, including nutrition and cooking education.

Hunger is a major issue in Oregon, with about one in eight people unsure where his or her next meal is coming from at any given time in a month.

Spencer Masterson, statewide network manager for Oregon Food Bank, says Oregonians still are being left behind after the recession, despite the improving economy.

"Our Oregon Food Bank network is distributing food to local agencies actually at a higher volume than the 2007 – 2010 Great Recession,” he states. “So for many Oregonians, the recession never ended, even though it's been nine years."

Masterson adds that certain populations, such as single mothers, immigrant communities and communities of color, are especially vulnerable to hunger.

Carlson-Swanson says proposals at the federal level to reduce funding for programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, make it even more important for Oregon to invest in anti-hunger policies.

She says cuts to SNAP would exacerbate an already delicate hunger situation in the state.

"It's complicated,” she states. “There are a lot of factors involved and we only see those seeking assistance increasing over the next year or two."

Disclosure: Oregon Food Bank contributes to our fund for reporting on Hunger/Food/Nutrition. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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