Food Insecurity Rises Along With Unemployment in Oregon
As our days in quarantine tick by with no end in sight and unemployment numbers continue to skyrocket, public officials are keeping a wary eye on the growing demand for food help from around Oregon.
Last week, Gov. Kate Brown announced an emergency $8 million appropriation for the Oregon Food Bank, the umbrella nonprofit that distributes food to more than a thousand partner charities around the state.
There’s even more money going to Oregon’s food stamp program for April and May, better known as SNAP or the Supplemental Nutrition Aid Program, to help people buy groceries, supplementing what they can get for free via food pantries.
What’s more, officials are monitoring a drop in the number of food bank volunteers, because people are following the stay at home directive, particularly the retirees who are the backbone of so many volunteer-driven organization (and who are, by virtue of their age, in a higher risk group for coronavirus.)
And because we’re all cooking at home so much more these days, the food bank is getting fewer donations from grocery stores that can’t even keep their own shelves stocked fast enough to keep up with demand, says Ashley Mumm, a spokesperson for the Oregon Food Bank.
That means more food needs to come from direct wholesaler purchases, which costs the organization a cool $1 million per week, Mumm says.
A Look at the Numbers
2 million Pounds of food distributed by the Oregon Food Bank each week. That figure is expected to grow in the coming months, Mumm says.
21 Regional food banks around the state
1400+ Food pantries, meal sites and direct food delivery programs, like Meals on Wheels, that rely on Oregon Food Bank for produce, canned goods and other staples
$60 million Extra money earmarked for food stamp recipients around Oregon in April and May
$646 Maximum monthly food stamp benefit for a family of four in Oregon
260,000 Number of people who get food from the Oregon Food Bank in a “normal” month
20-60 percent Increase in demand for food from local food pantries and meal sites since the start of the coronavirus shutdowns in Oregon in mid-March
Sources: Oregon Food Bank, the office of Oregon Governor Kate Brown