Rogue Valley food banks see a ‘wave’ of need

MEDFORD, Ore. – A recent Oregon State University study said more Oregonians are insecure about food than in previous years. Much of it is a result of the global pandemic. However, local food banks told NBC5 News it’s not that simple.

Food banks in Southern Oregon said it depends on the region.

“It does seem like some areas seem [needier] than other areas. It depends [on] what part of the state,” said Marcee Champion, Access’ Food Programs Director.

She said this past year came with its challenges.

“Right after the pandemic started we definitely started seeing increases. We saw spikes of up to 80%,” said Champion.

While Josephine Co. Food Bank also saw an increase, the need came in different waves.

,says it wasn’t just an upward trend.

“When people get additional recourses like the extra unemployment or they get the additional snap benefits, that’s a help for them right there to be able to get the additional food supply that they need,” said Executive Director Kim Collins.

While community needs saw change throughout 2020 for food banks, Jackson Co. got an extra stressor last September.

“In conjunction with covid, we had the fires. So one of the things we’ve seen that maybe aren’t striking in other parts of the state is the need for food assistance in relation to people who are unhoused,” said Champion.

Champion told NBC5 News, even if fire victims got food many were displaced not having a kitchen to prepare food.

“Going to a food pantry isn’t going to be all that helpful. We’ve worked with other agencies in the area. Hoping to provide meals that are more convenient who may not have the accessories to cook food for your family,” said Champion.

Another troubling aspect is the dip in volunteers both food banks saw last year.

“I think as the governor puts freezes on our ability to gather in bigger numbers then the volunteer efforts go down a little bit,” Collins.

It’s hard to predict what 2021 will hold for food banks.

But both ACCESS and Josephine Co. Food Bank are preparing for the uncertainty.

For more information on ACCESS click HERE.

For more information on Josephine Co. Food Bank click HERE.

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NBC5 News reporter Katie Streit comes from her hometown, Las Vegas. Katie went to the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism & Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas, Katie won a Student Emmy for her coverage of the Las Vegas Shooting Anniversary. She also hosted and produced the university's political news show, where she interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-1). Her passion for politics turned into a coveted internship at the US Capitol in Washington D.C. In her final months working in the Las Vegas area, she was recognized for her journalism achievements by the Nevada Broadcaster's Foundation. Katie is excited to tell the stories of local Southern Oregonians and Northern Californians. Feel free to contact her at [email protected]
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