Oregon Food Bank prepares for possible government shutdown impact

As the threat of a shutdown looms, state-wide agencies in Oregon are preparing for how they may be impacted.
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 10:47 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - As the threat of a shutdown looms, state-wide agencies in Oregon are preparing for how they may be impacted.

The Oregon Food Bank said a shutdown could mean the 18,000 federal government employees in Oregon would go without a paycheck until things are back up and running.

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The food bank said that over their roughly 40 years serving the community, they’ve dealt with several government shuts downs. However, if it were to come this time, Susannah Morgan, OFB’s President, said it would be amidst an already existing crisis of people facing food insecurity.

“The fact that even more people may be food insecure due to a government shutdown, to me, is unconscionable,” she said.

When a shutdown occurs, Morgan explained that federal employees would be furloughed, and out of paycheck until the government is back up and running.

Morgan went on to say that the 18,000 federal government employees in Oregon doesn’t include the unknown number of people contracted by the government, who would also be out of work.

“In each government shut down, we see a rush of people who need food assistance,” Morgan said.

Morgan believes both the pandemic and previous shutdowns have readied them for unprecedented amounts of people seeking help. According to Morgan, oftentimes when people are suddenly faced with food insecurity they don’t know where to turn.

“We are practiced,” she said. “The people who are employed by the federal government may feel like the world is ending. It’s one thing for us to know that we’re there and available. It’s another thing to be wondering how you’re going to make rent or get your refrigerator filled up.”

Morgan added that another concern of theirs when government shutdowns occur is that programs like WIC and food stamps will also temporarily be put on pause. However, she claimed that Oregon is prepared this time around, and both of those programs will remain intact should anything happen.

She called that good news, as she said they anticipate helping more than one-million people in Oregon facing food insecurity this year alone.

“That’s the most important thing to make sure nobody falls through the cracks and that everybody gets food through this period,” she explained, “should it occur.”

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Morgan said there are 1,400 food assistance sites spanning across every county in Oregon and Clark County, Washington.

If anyone is facing food insecurity, Morgan recommended going to this website to access food assistance, and to find a food bank location nearest you.