Hunger on the rise: Pt. 1

, Posted: Mon, May 12 2014 at 5:25 PM, Updated: Mon, May 12 2014 at 8:13 PM

Grants Pass, Ore., -- It's estimated that one in every six American's is hungry. 

And many of those people rely on food pantries for a good portion of what they put on the table every night. But in today's economy, even the food banks are struggling to fill their own shelves.

According to the Oregon Food Bank, an average of 270,000 people across the state receive emergency food boxes, that's just a little less than the population of Jackson and Josephine counties combined.

For 12 years and on a tight budget, April Rodman had to manage paying for rent, utilities, and food for herself and her two children.    

"I had a food budget of $30 a week when I was out on my own so I made it work with potatoes and beans," Rodman said.

But there's only so much you can do with limited ingredients. It was through her church that April learned she was eligible for an emergency monthly food box.

"Getting the boxes were really a bonus and helped out a lot," said Rodman.

Susan Scheufele from the Josephine County Food Bank says that April's story is typical of what they hear.

"So many of the people we serve today are what you would called working poor," Scheufele said.

"Hunger has and is still a very big issue in Josephine county."

Scheufele says when she started her position in 2006, back then food bank served 6,000 people. That number doubled a few years ago. That number has declined to 10,500 people as of April 2014.

Scheufele explains, "Part of that is not because there are fewer hungry people, part of that is because we've had a number of pantries that for a variety of reasons have had to cut back there hours. So, now we have an access issue." 

Josephine County isn't alone. Across the region, the number of people relying on emergency food ranges from 1,200 in Del Norte County to 23,000 in Klamath and Lake County.

Items received by the food bank go out into the community to places like Kairos of Grants Pass.

That's where Rodman works as a food supervisor working hand in hand with the food bank obtaining food for the non-profit.

Scheufele says there a major need for help.

Coming up Tuesday on NBC 5 News @ 6 Kyle Aevermann will look at some of the small ways you can get involved and help make a big difference.

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