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FOX 12 Hunger Free Project: Oregon Food Bank

The Oregon Food Bank said nearly double the number of people were struggling to eat in 2020, and now the need continues.
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 7:09 AM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - With inflation skyrocketing and more people forced to pinch pennies to pay the bills, it’s getting harder for people to make sure they and their families have the basics, like food on the table.

The pandemic has brought uncertainty, change and hardship to the lives of so many people, and it’s not surprising that more people turned to food banks to get by. Here’s a statistic that really brings it to perspective: The Oregon Food Bank said nearly double the number of people were struggling to eat in 2020, and now the need continues.

Feeding hungry Oregonians is always a heavy lift, but the last couple of years has been nothing short of a crisis.

“The pandemic caused a jaw-dropping increase in people seeking food assistance in Oregon and southwest Washington,” said Susannah Morgan, CEO of Oregon Food Bank.

Morgan told FOX 12 that in 2020, some 1.7 million people turned to food pantries and other assistance programs to eat, some who have perhaps never faced hunger before and plenty who struggle pre-pandemic.

“Any way you slice it that is an epidemic, about 1 in 5 people asking for food assistance,” Morgan said.

Each year, the Oregon Food Bank doles out millions of pounds of food across the state and southwest Washington through 21 regional food banks and more than 1,400 pantries and food programs.

In 2020, 53 million meals came from the Oregon Food Bank.

“The stress during the pandemic has particularly fallen on the communities that always feel the stress. The communities of color, transgender and gender nonconforming communities, single moms, immigrant and migrant communities,” said Morgan.

The good news - last year the need for free food dipped, something Morgan attributes to government assistance like rent programs and stimulus funds.

The bad news - hunger is still a huge program and not down to pre-COVID levels.

Morgan estimates that more than a million Oregonians are still struggling, and feeding them is something the food bank can’t do alone.

“We have been overwhelmed and so grateful for the enormous community support that has got us this far through the pandemic, however we expect high levels of food demand to continue for several years because the economic disruption continues, so we need the community to continue to step up and dig deep and support the Oregon Food Bank and the entire anti-hunger network,” Morgan said.

If you are in need of food, the Oregon Food Bank will help you stock your fridge and pantry, and there’s a simple way to find the help that’s closest to you, just visit foodfinder.oregonfoodbank.org, type in your zip code and you’ll find pantries closest to you.

You can also help by donating to the FOX 12 Hunger Free Project food drive at any Fred Meyer from now through April 22. For more information, click here.