PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — More and more families in Oregon are wondering where they’ll get their next meal.

First, it was the economic impact of the pandemic. Now, inflation and rising rent prices are meaning more families have to access food banks and soup kitchens. However, those organizations want people to know they’re there to help and that there’s no shame in using their services.

According to Google, the search “food pantries near me” in Oregon increased by 70% in the past year.

The Oregon Food Bank says 1.5 million people are seeking food assistance in Oregon this year, which is double the number who relied on food banks before the pandemic. The organization held an event on Monday where volunteers packed food donation boxes to be distributed to food support organizations and families across Oregon ahead of the holiday season, as part of Google and Feeding America’s effort to provide 50 million meals nationwide. 

KOIN 6 News talked with Blanchet House, a soup kitchen in Old Town, who says they have noticed the increased need too.

“We’re definitely seeing more families, people with children who are coming, more people who drive up … People are looking for a way to stretch their food budget,” said Scott Kerman from Blanchet House. “We’re seeing people access our services that we don’t normally see.”

“It’s really tragic what I’m seeing, especially here in Old Town,” added Blanchet House client Carson Rivers. 

Kerman also pointed out how inflation also impacts them, but they can’t pass those increased costs onto the people they serve.

“There was an economic crisis that proceeded the pandemic,” he said. “We have to assume those costs, and we’re not going to diminish our services. We’re actually having to elevate our services.”