Oregon, SW Washington could see 1.5M people ask for food assistance

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — On Thursday, President Biden talked about tangible ways to end hunger and improve public health by 2030 during the first White House conference on hunger since 1969.

The head of the Oregon Food Bank was part of a national conference earlier this week and weighed in on the topic after tens of thousands of Oregonians are facing hunger right now.

“In 2019, 860,000 other neighbors in Oregon and Southwest Washington asked for food assistance. I think it’s going to be 1.5 million people this year,” said Susannah Morgan the CEO of the Oregon Food Bank. “50% of our children are growing up in poverty.”

We’re living through the highest level of hunger since the great depression of the 1930s, Morgan said.

“So, for the White House to hold a conference again and say it’s time for us to re-examine and think again about the public policies we can put into place over the next decade is extremely exciting,” said Morgan.

She said the White House addressed a number of recommendations during the conference. Two include expanding the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) — formally known as food stamps — and to bring back the child tax credit.

The child tax credit was put into place for a year during the COVID-19 pandemic that targeted low-income families with young children. But it was recently pulled at the end of 2021.

“It had a huge impact,” said Morgan. “We can show that that single program cut poverty to children in half and cut food insecurity by 26%. That’s outstanding.”

Morgan believes Oregon needs to attack the root cause of hunger. By addressing things like living wages, affordable housing, access to health care and systemic discrimination.

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