The prolonged snow and icy weather in Oregon is making it harder for families and seniors to get food. But social service food providers said they're adjusting their approaches to make sure food gets to the people who need it most.
Children across Oregon have missed days of school because of weather — as much as nine days in many Portland-area school districts. That deprives many kids from low-income families of free lunches and breakfasts. Families without cars that can navigate the snow have problems getting groceries, according to non-profit observers, like the Partnership for a Hunger-Free Oregon.
“Also lost wages due to missing work, costs of childcare and for those on SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program], it's about the time of month that their benefits begin to run out,” said Simone Crowe, spokesperson for the Hunger-Free Oregon.
Some social service providers are taking extra steps to ensure food gets to the people who need it the most. Meals On Wheels People delivers food to shut-in seniors and families in need of meals. Director of Marketing Julie Piper Finley said her nonprofit has been forced to close its neighborhood sites — the places from where food gets delivered — six times in the last month.
Piper Finley said Meals on Wheels People has twice cooked extra meals in anticipation of a storm, frozen them, and then delivered them early, in case snow and ice made same-day food deliveries impossible. The nonprofit has also repeatedly called their 3,000 senior clients to make sure they have sufficient food.
“Most of them say ‘I’m fine for today,’” Piper Finley said, but she said for seniors in immediate need the organization has found a driver with a properly-equipped vehicle to deliver food.
Piper Finley said Meals On Wheels has also been contacting families who receive delivered meals. Those food deliveries have sometimes shifted by a few days to avoid the worst weather conditions.