March 11, 2014

Child at food pantry

The board’s unanimous vote expands the food purchasing capacity of the Oregon Food Bank’s Multnomah County food distribution system in zip codes with a high percentage of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation.

The $100,000 comes from a $1 million one-time-only contingency fund set aside earlier by the board in anticipation of needing to mitigate state and federal fund reductions.

“It’s important that we signal as Multnomah County…we are ready to help those who need it right now,” said Commissioner Judy Shiprack. “We are not going to solve the problem of hunger with this vote, but it will help mitigate the continuing federal budget cuts to our social safety net.”

The board action on March 6 follows a January briefing that detailed the depth of federal budget cuts and their impact on already-struggling families in Multnomah County. Among the troubling numbers from that briefing were these:

  • Eighty-eight percent of the jobs lost during Great Recession were “middle-wage” jobs with annual pay of $25,000-$50,000, but only 4 percent of the jobs created during the recovery landed in that range.
  • In 2012, 112,000 Oregonians worked part-time involuntarily 2.5 times more than in 2007.
  • Multnomah County’s number of SNAP households doubled between 2008 and 2012, remains high, and will take years to recover to pre-recession numbers.

Last November, a temporary benefits increase to SNAP households ended, creating a significant cut to food assistance for families across Multnomah County. The Farm Bill passed by Congress in January freights on $8.7 billion more in SNAP cuts over the next decade primarily in 15 states, including Oregon.

“For a lot of the families we are talking about,’’ said Commissioner Liesl Wendt, “they are already stretched.”

The Oregon Food Bank collects and distributes food for local area food pantries. OFB holds the state contract with the federal Department of Agriculture and is the only organization serving all of the emergency food pantry community partners. The Oregon Food Bank will not collect administrative fees on these funds, but will extend credit to area food pantries in zip codes with the highest SNAP participation rates.

Multnomah County already works in partnership with the Oregon Food Bank, school districts and Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon to support SUN emergency food pantries, which are included in this added food credit.

For more information and resources:
Call 211 or visit 211info.org

Oregon Food Bank zip code finder