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Food Insecurity Surged In Oregon During Pandemic

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

A recent report from the Oregon State University Policy Analysis Laboratory showed the pandemic has “reversed” some of the state’s efforts to decrease food insecurity. About 25% of Oregonians faced food insecurity in 2020, which is double the number of last year.

Meanwhile Black, Indigenous, and other people of color have likely experienced food insecurity at a higher rate of more than 30%, according to the report. Sociology professor and author of the report Mark Edwards said the sharp increase is significant.

“There’s no reason to believe that we have ever been in this situation where so many people have been struggling," he said. "So the number is extraordinary, but also the speed at which it came upon us, that in such a short period of time that this has happened.”

Edwards said though findings illuminate the severity of the situation, Oregon is well positioned to tackle the problem. He points to decreasing rates following the Great Recession as an example of what’s possible.

"We have an amazing set of people working to reduce food insecurity...like the Department of Human Services, Department of Education, and the nonprofit organizations around us like the Oregon Food Bank and Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon," he said.

Credit OSU Policy Analysis Laboratory
This graph from the report shows a sharp increase in food insecurity during 2020 following years of decreasing food insecurity.

Copyright 2020, KLCC

Melorie Begay is a multimedia journalist for KLCC News. She was the Inaugural KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She has a bachelors in Multimedia Journalism from the University of New Mexico. She previously interned at KUNM public radio in Albuquerque, NM and served as a fellow for the online news publication New Mexico In Depth.
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