Oregon has more food-insecure citizens per capita than any other Northwest state, according to Partner for a Hunger Free Oregon.
But the news isn’t all bad.
Even with the Beaver State trailing the rest of the nation in the post-recession recovery, Oregon still somehow managed to post its largest single year decline in hunger in the past two decades, according to the group’s most recent study.
In the Partners for a Hungry Free Oregon’s November 2017 newsletter, the group reports food insecurity — those concerned or anxious about having enough food choices available — decreased statewide from 16.1 percent to 14.6 percent for the years 2014-16.
Oregonians claiming to struggle with daily hunger challenges dropped from 6.6 percent to 6.2 percent in the same time frame.
But in Gold Beach, the Christian Help Food Bank (CHFB) hasn’t seen the drop in numbers. If anything the need is greater — not smaller, according to CHFB Manager Sandra Turner.
Turner operates the facility with a crew of one full-time assistant and seven part-time volunteers. CHFB is funded through a combination of grants and donations.
Turner said the center could use more volunteers and donations to meet the growing need.
“We are currently helping approximately 618 people per month,” Turner said.
Turner points to a trend in Gold Beach that is headed contrary to the rest of the state.
In the years between 2015 and 2017, the number of households served by CHFB increased by 74. The number of individuals served increased by 107.
To accommodate that increase, the food bank added three volunteers and 69 hours.
The reasons some in Curry deal with hunger vary from person to person. Housing costs, low-wage jobs and seniors living on fixed incomes while experiencing rising medical costs squeeze grocery bills to the breaking point, according to Turner.
To offer relief at the dinner table, CHFB has shelf-stable items available to anyone meeting financial requirements. Macaroni and cheese, tuna, salmon, beans, canned milk, soups and vegetables are among the items packed into “help boxes” distributed in Gold Beach and Agness.
The food bank also offers dairy items such as cheese, fresh eggs and farm-fresh direct produce.
Turner believes CHFB is making a difference in the fight against hunger.
“People come by here and tell us they don’t know how they would make it if the food bank wasn’t here.
“I love my job,” she said. “Helping people in need is so rewarding.”
The center, across the street behind the county courthouse, is at 29813 Colvin St. in Gold Beach. It is open Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon and Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information, to volunteer or donate food, call 541-247-4054.