Several years ago, I was in The Dalles where I met a person seeking food assistance at a food pantry – I’ll call her Mandy.
Mandy was a single mom with three kids, working full time, but barely making ends meet. Mandy told me that every time she got her paycheck, she would take her children to the grocery store. In addition to the staples and the bare necessities, she would buy four apples. Then they would all sit in the car enjoying their apples, knowing that it would be two weeks before they would eat another crunchy, juicy, fresh piece of fruit.
I looked up into the hills. Some of the best apples on this planet are grown just a few miles south of downtown The Dalles, and not all of those apples make their way into grocery stores. There had to be a way to share this bounty with our neighbors in need.
So we did.
Fulfilling the needs of a growing family
Jessica’s house is lively. She lives with her son from a previous relationship, her fiancé, and their young twins. Her fiancé’s daughter also lives with them part time. A chronic health problem means Jessica needs to be careful about what she eats and avoid processed foods. She’s proud of the fact that she can create meals from simple ingredients.
“I get what basics I can at the food bank, so I can use my SNAP benefits (food stamps) to get the other things at the store,” Jessica says. “If you can get your rice and beans and all those things you have the basics covered. So, when I go grocery shopping I get the food that I don’t always get at the food bank.”
Oregon growers give back
Oregon growers put their hearts and souls
into producing a wide variety of fruits,
vegetables and grains. From apples and
pears to potatoes and onions, these
nutritious foods are available in abundance
at grocery stores and farmers markets
around the state. For the produce that isn’t
quite fit for market, many farmers chose to
donate to Oregon Food Bank to feed their
neighbors struggling with hunger.
Health clinics – a line of defense to
keep hunger away
Since its implementation in 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has increased health care access for low-income families and individuals, and it has helped health care providers look at health care differently by focusing on preventative approaches. Food insecurity and poor nutrition can imitate other health conditions or be masked by disease. About 300 health
care sites in Oregon have implemented screening procedures for food insecurity.
A networked response to disaster
On July 12, 2017, a lightning strike started a fire deep in the wilderness on the Southern Oregon Coast. It quickly grew and threatened Brookings, a community of 6,000 residents. About 300 people were evacuated with little notice. Knowing that the evacuations would put increased stress
on food pantries in the area, Regional Food Bank Manager Laura Hunter
of South Coast Food Share jumped into action. At her request, Oregon
Food Bank sent extra food and water on the next delivery. When the
community needed bread, a phone call to Food for Lane County ensured
that more would be sent. Other regional food banks offered donations
if needed. Even though the fire continued through the summer, the quick initial response by Oregon Food Bank and others reminded the community that neighbors near and far were there to help.
Giving back and spreading the word
Each year, thousands of volunteers and donors help Oregon Food Bank in our work to end hunger and its root causes. Gifts of time and money are offered in big and small amounts – and it is the combination of these generous donations that ensure thousands of people in Oregon and Clark County, Washington have enough to eat.
For Lubna Qureshi, giving to Oregon Food Bank has become an integral part of her family’s life.
After recently signing a lease for a new warehouse space in The
Dalles, Oregon Food Bank is working with community leaders
from Wasco, Hood River and Sherman counties to help reestablish a regional food bank. This new facility will improve food safety compliance, allow for service expansion in the region and improve efficiency for partner agency pick up.
Protecting the safety net
In 2018 the Agricultural Act, commonly
known as the Farm Bill, is up for
reauthorization. This legislation contains
critical provisions for people struggling
with hunger. It contains two important
assistance programs – Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP,
formerly known as food stamps) and The
Emergency Food Assistance Program