The need for assistance is increasing.
“Our food stamp benefits have been cut, and we barely made it on the old amount. Now, food stamps usually last us for two weeks. Without the food bank? I don’t know how we’d make it.”
Faced with a slow economic recovery, high health care and fuel costs and other contributors to rising poverty levels, more local residents than ever before are struggling to pay their bills and buy the food they need. One out of every five families in Linn and Benton counties must depend on food from an emergency food pantry at least once each year. Emergency food pantries and soup kitchens across our area are providing assistance to record numbers of people.
WHO we serve…
They are your neighbors and fellow community members.
“My husband and I have been self-employed since we married. About three years ago he was injured on the job. With his disability insurance, we make $11 too much to qualify for the Oregon Health Plan. But, his insurance doesn’t cover many of the special medications he needs. One year ago, because he tried to stretch his medications beyond what the doctors prescribed, he had a massive heart attack. Me…? I would have to divorce my husband in order to qualify for any state assistance. So, I appreciated any help I can get at the food bank.”
More than 49,000 individuals and families will request food boxes in our two-county this year. As expected, people in need are seniors, people with disabilities, single parents, and the unemployed. But surprisingly, in Oregon the majority of people who live in poverty are working. The Oregon Center for Public Policy states that at least one parent works part-time or more in 64 percent of families with children living in poverty.
According to Oregon State University professor Bruce Weber “The people that have significantly higher hunger rates are our employed people, families with full-year, full-time employed workers, where the hunger rate is twice as high as nationally, and those with two adults in a household with children.”
In fact, children feel the helplessness of hunger most deeply – they make up almost 40 percent of those receiving emergency food assistance in Linn and Benton counties. Even worse, Oregon has the highest rate of childhood food insecurity in the nation. For 29% of our kids, access to nutritionally adequate food is limited or uncertain.
So, the people we serve – the people receiving emergency food assistance – are the kids sitting next to your own in school. They are someone’s elderly parents trying to get by on a fixed income while rent, utilities, health care and prescription drug prices soar. And they are working families who don’t make enough to purchase food to last the month, and often must skip or cut their own meals so their kids will have enough to eat.
WHAT we do . . .
LBFS Distribution Programs
Delivery program – Linn Benton Food Share delivers to the emergency food box and emergency meal site locations in Linn & Benton counties, ensuring that the resources for those local programs can be focused on their emergency services.
Fresh Alliance program – In partnership with Fred Meyer, Albertsons, Rays Market and Walmart, LBFS collects dairy, milk, produce, meat and other products from local grocery stores that are close to pull dates and distributes the products immediately to our network of food pantries and soup kitchens. An average of 50,000 pounds of high-quality food is saved from the landfill each month.
Food Rescue program – Through Food Rescue, LBFS collects “prepared but not served” food from the McNary, Arnold and Marketplace West dining halls on the OSU campus. Food is distributed immediately to meal site locations in Linn and Benton counties. The average pounds of nutritious food saved per month – 5,500.
Types of Agencies in the LBFS Network
Emergency Food Box agencies (food pantries) – Local food pantries provide a 3-5 day supply of food to individuals and families at or below the 185% of the federal poverty rate. These agencies provide food to an average of nearly 14,500 individuals per month in Linn and Benton counties in 2013.
Emergency Meal Sites (soup kitchens) & Emergency Shelters – Emergency meal sites provide a welcoming environment and a free meal to individuals and families seeking assistance. Emergency shelters provide safe havens and meal services for families, youth, and individuals who do not have access to a safe place to spend the night. Together, these agencies provide an average of 24,000 meals per month in our two-county area.
Supplemental, Non-Emergency programs – These non-profit agencies serve low-income individuals or families and food is part of the program services. The agencies include child care centers, drug & alcohol rehab centers, group homes, senior care facilities, and weekend backpack programs. They provide an average of 23,000 meals per month.
Gleaning – There are 14 gleaning groups operating in partnership with Linn Benton Food Share in our 2-county area. These groups are all non-profit organizations, consisting of and run by low- income beneficiaries. For more information about the Linn Benton Food Share Gleaning Program, click here.
HOW we do it ...
Community support and participation is essential.
Linn Benton Food Share wisely manages the funds we receive, keeping our overhead costs (including salaries) at around 1% of donated dollars. We distribute over 5 million pounds of food a year with the equivalent of seven full-time staff. Obviously, we couldn’t do this without a tremendous amount of community support.
Local volunteers provide more than 228,000 hours a year in staffing emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. Last year, 14,000 hours of service were given directly to Linn Benton Food Share to help us carry out our operations.
If you would like to be a part of this effort, check out our Help Food Share Page