Prior to the introduction of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oregon Food Bank was able to provide food to around 260,000 people per month thanks to the network of 1,400 food assistance sites and 21 regional food banks.
Now, however, more and more businesses are scaling back to protect the health of the public due to the “Stay Home, Save Lives” orders in Oregon. These orders have continued to has a major ripple effect across the state.
As of March, one in four workers in Oregon is filing for unemployment. According to recent estimates, food insecurity has doubled in the past few months. That’s not to say that hunger did not exist before the pandemic, as immigrant communities, communities of color, single-parent households, and LGBTQ community members, have dealt with hunger over the years.
With COVID-19 in the wake and a nation on the brink of economic fallout, food insecurity has greatly increased for Oregon residents.
The Oregon Food Bank has recently seen an uptick in demand of about 20-70% and is working hard to meet those demands with meal sites and pantries sprinkled across the state. Many Oregon Food Bank locations are serving the same number of people in one month that they typically serve in a full year.
Thanks to the longstanding partnerships with local manufacturers, farmers, and government, as well as strong community support, Oregon Food Bank is preparing to help those who need it most.
Making Food Accessible Through Outreach
Prior to the pandemic posing a food security threat to thousands of people, Oregon Food Bank knew how important it was to make sure all Oregonians had the proper support and had the knowledge of where to look. The crisis plan included providing easy informational access to the whereabouts of critical resources and efforts to raise awareness of accessible food assistance.
OregonFoodFinder.org was launched as an online portable with links to service organizations and a massive searchable database. The organization partnered with several media outlets throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington to put together an educational campaign.
The Food Finer portal translated its advertisements into 11 languages to obtain the widest reach possible, each of the languages within the most popular for Pacific Northwesterners.
Improving Food Security
Currently, there are well over 300,000 Oregon citizens looking to Oregon Food Bank to provide them with food assistance every month. There has been an increase in the demand for pre-packaged food, which has thereby increased the need for transportation, warehousing, and distribution. Overall, the operation costs around $1 million per week.
Kate Brown, Oregon’s governor, came through with the emergency coordination center to invest $8 million into the Oregon Food Bank in order to account for the new costs. Of course, there is still plenty of room for support and it is more important now than ever.
Luckily, the community in Oregon is coming together, including a woman by the name of Whitney Light Rutz, who put together what she dubbed her “Giant Ass Cinnamon Roll”, to acquire donations for the food bank.
As of now, she has raised more than $52,000 for the Oregon Food Bank thanks to her work.