Oregon Remains One of the Top Five Hungriest States this Holiday Season

A succulent holiday glazed ham circled with pineapple and cloves swimming in the juices.
Sweet potato soufflé made to perfection with a candied topping of melted brown sugar and walnuts…
Warm Dutch Crust apple pie a la mode drizzled with hot caramel sauce, smothered in real whipped cream…

Are you hungry yet?

So are the more than half-a-million Oregonians – 13.9 percent of households – who suffer from food insecurity. The difference is, you will likely get to enjoy these kinds of tasty holiday dishes in the upcoming weeks, and they, likely, will not.

According to the 2009 hunger report * released November 15, 2010 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Oregon remains in the top five hungriest states in America—as it was the year prior. Of the more than half-a-million Oregonians mentioned above as food insecure, more than 225,000 individuals—6.6 percent of households—suffer from very low food security, or hunger. Oregonians suffering from very low food security have to make difficult decisions to stretch their food through to the end of the month including skipping meals and shrinking portions of food for their families—going hungry. According to a 2010 report by the AARP Public Policy Institute ** , Older Americans in Poverty: A Snapshot, older adults experienced a significant increase in the number low-income households experiencing food insecurity—17.6 percent in 2006 rising to 22.1 percent in 2008. Plus, the number of those households experiencing very low food security spiked.

Due to high unemployment rates across the state resulting from the economic downturn, 240,000 people per month ate meals from an Oregon Food Bank emergency food box last year, up from 200,000 the previous years. Thirty-three percent of those hungry bellies are of children. Today, more and more Oregonians are relying on the charity of crucial organizations like the Oregon Food Bank and its network of 947 hunger-relief agencies throughout Oregon and Clark County, Washington. Without support, these agencies cannot exist.

There are so many ways Oregonians can help today, and everyday.

‘Tis the season to lift up your neighbor, give generously to one another, and put others before yourself. Consider this holiday season as an opportunity to begin a lifelong commitment to reducing hunger in Oregon. There are endless steps one can take today that will help make sure our neighbors don’t go hungry. Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon offers a great list of ideas including voicing concerns to congressmen, getting involved with legislative priorities, donating food or volunteering at local hunger relief agencies, joining the Oregon Business Hunger Initiative and more—find out how to help by visiting: www.oregonhunger.org/take-action

AARP Oregon also offers a “Ways To Give Back” section on their website along with CreateTheGood.org—a website that connects people with service opportunities that fit their life and interests and through which they can make a positive impact on their community.

Let this holiday season be a turning point in your life—a time when you acknowledge your own strength and ability to fight hunger in Oregon. When we unite as a community and assemble our tools, resources and selfless hearts, change can happen. No one should ever go hungry…

*The full report can be accessed at: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/ERR108/ERR108.pdf

** The full report can be accessed at: http://www.aarp.org/work/retirement-planning/info-04-2010/2010-03-poverty-new.html

Posted on December 14, 2010.