More Oregonians turn to food bank as pandemic benefits end, inflation rises

Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 5:33 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Fred Meyer and Oregon Food Bank are teaming up as part of FOX 12′s Hunger Free Project to make sure everyone who needs a meal gets one, and are helping to draw attention to the critical state of hunger in Oregon and southwest Washington.

Oregon Food Bank serves more than 1,400 programs. They estimated 1.5 million people asked for food assistance at least once across the state and in Clark County Washington in 2022. They say they expect to serve over a million people this year.

Susannah Morgan, CEO of Oregon Food Bank, says according to mobile food assistant sites in the Portland area, there’s been an increase of 25%-50% of people asking for food assistance.

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Morgan says the worst rates of hunger nearly doubled when the pandemic started in March of 2020 and has fluctuated ever since. She says as inflation surged in 2022 and Oregon Food Bank saw an increase in need.

“When your income is lower, you spend a larger percentage on groceries, and you have less money to start wit. The stress of inflation disproportionately impacts our neighbors who are working on a very tight budget,” says Morgan.

They it increased again when additional pandemic SNAP funds ended in February of this year.

“For individuals that was a cut of $95 a month for families that was a 40% cut in the amount of additional grocery dollars they were getting.”

Over that time, they’ve seen A 50%-80% higher than pre-pandemic levels. With school out and summer on the horizon, Morgan says families may need as many as 10 extra meals worth of food each week.

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“Kids count on getting lunch, sometimes breakfast sometimes and after school snack at school and when the parents don’t have that additional food available for their kids, they are extra burdened and extra challenging.”

For an idea of how your dollar can go the long haul, every $10 donated can support as many as 30 meals. That money goes to purchase truckloads of food which is shared between regional food banks and local food pantries. More than half of the food provided is fresh fruit and vegetables along with pantry stables.

To help, you can round up at the register every time you buy something at your local Fred Meyer or volunteer. Follow this link to learn more.