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Area food bank faces increased need and higher costs

A hand reaches into a box of grapes, a box of pears is visible in the background.
Linn Benton Food Share
Food pantries are seeing higher wholesale food prices as more people seek assistance.

Here’s some food for thought: One area food bank expects increased need this winter, and higher food costs.

Ryan McCambridge is the Director of Linn Benton Food Share. He said since federal and state pandemic assistance ended last spring, demand has risen steadily, and it’s now at historically high levels.

“If your rent is increasing, food cost is increasing, but any benefit that you had from the state or federal government is decreasing," McCambridge told KLCC, "or if you had student loans starting up again, all these factors are just combining to get us to where we’re at for emergency food.”

The Oregon Department of Human Services announced recently it would issue additional, one-time pandemic-related food assistance to families with children age five and under. Those with EBT cards had the funds added on October 17. Families who are no longer receiving SNAP benefits will receive a notice in the mail.

McCambridge said it’s welcome relief, but other demographics also need help. He said the elderly in particular are often overlooked. Linn-Benton food share recently increased its emergency food delivery service for seniors, and now serves 425 households a month.

McCambridge added the cost of food is a significant concern for the sustainability of food programs in general. He said Linn Benton Food Share is grateful for assistance from entities such as OSU and dairy company Tillamook, but that Oregon has few food manufacturers, and the lack of large donations has an impact on what local food banks can offer.

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.