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Hunger In Oregon: Then And Now

USDA Report: 15 Percent Of Oregon Families 'Food Insecure' In 2013

Tiffany Warner eats dinner at home with her two daughters in Bend.

Tiffany Warner eats dinner at home with her two daughters in Bend.

Amanda Peacher/OPB

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its latest report about food security.

Nationwide, 17.5 million families — or one in seven — were “food insecure” last year. That means, at some point during the year, these families had a hard time providing food for everyone in the household. In Oregon, about 15 percent of Oregon families were food insecure.

The number was essentially unchanged from the year before and remains much higher than before the recession.

Anti-hunger groups say the fact that so many are struggling to put food on the table even as the economy improves shows more needs to be done.

Tiffany Warner is a single mother of three in Bend. She knows what it feels like when the cupboards run bare. She works part-time at a candy store in Bend, but says she still has a hard time feeding everyone in her family on her income. 

“This month after my food stamps were gone, I ended up having to go and get food boxes and I’ve never ever had to do that in my life,” she said.

Patti Whitney-Wise leads the Oregon Hunger Task Force. She was disappointed that the report didn’t have better news for Oregon.

“We moved back to where we were in the early 2000s when we were the hungriest state in the country,” said Whitney-Wise.

Since 2000, Oregon has made a number of changes to reduce hunger and poverty, like expanding the earned income tax credit, getting more people signed up for SNAP benefits, and opening new food pantries.

Oregon is no longer the hungriest state in the nation, but that’s because other states are in worse shape. The percentage of hungry people in Oregon is back up to where it was more than a decade ago.

This story was informed by sources in OPB’s Public Insight Network. Learn more, and sign up to be a source for OPB here.