by Susannah Morgan, CEO
It’s been almost ten weeks since I shared my first message regarding our response to the public health crisis. Many counties are just beginning to re-open, which offers a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel.
But based on what we’re seeing on the ground at our 1,400 food assistance sites, we know this crisis is far, far from over. At food pantries and meal sites throughout the region, we’re seeing a sustained increase in demand of 20 to 70%. In several cases, agencies that once served a hundred families in a “tough” week are now working with thousands.
And it’s no wonder — 1 in 5 Oregonians are out of work and many businesses will remain closed to ensure we keep this virus from spreading. So we know the economic fallout is only beginning.
Food insecurity is widening its reach to an increasing number of families, many who are experiencing hunger for the first time. And it’s deepening sharply in communities that have long faced hunger and poverty — among immigrants and refugees, single parents, communities of color, and our LGBTQ friends and neighbors.
That’s why we’ve taken unprecedented steps to ensure all our communities have the information they need to access food assistance and other critical resources:
- We’ve added a full list of online resources and local organizations that provide assistance with healthcare, housing, utilities and more
- We’ve made our improved Food Finder app available in 11 languages — including Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, Arabic and Vietnamese
- We’ve launched an aggressive flight of Public Service Announcements with media partners throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington
- And we’re meeting people where they are, offering language-specific connections to resources via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
I share all this to offer a bit of good news in the midst of what can seem like a steady stream of challenges: Food remains available throughout the region. New programs and assistance are available to support families who are struggling in the wake of COVID-19. And we’re making information and resources even more accessible to our communities.
So I hope you’ll visit our COVID-19 information page to find resources and opportunities for action close to you — and share widely with anyone you know who may need support. Because together, our communities can and will #EmergeStronger from this crisis.