PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – As pandemic-era Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits came to an end at the beginning of March, Oregon food banks say they are seeing a dramatic change in need amid inflation.
Oregon Food Bank employees say the need is rising and is driven, in part, by bigger bills at the grocery store.
According to the labor department, the cost of food has gone up more than 11% from 2022.
“I have been food banking for 27 years in four different states and we are going through the worst time for hunger in my entire career – in fact, since the 1930s,” Oregon Food Bank CEO Susannah Morgan said — noting in some places, the need doubled last week.
“We are already hearing from some marketplace food pantries in Vancouver that they hit their highest ever number of clients served –146 families and 15 new families in a single day — and that many of those folks were saying they’re worried about the SNAP cuts,” Morgan said.
The Sunshine Division is also noticing an increase in clients since SNAP benefits were reduced.
“Last week, our first week of the month, we saw about a 40% spike,” Sunshine Division Executive Director Kyle Camberg said. “It’s not surprising, but we’re gravely concerned.”
Camberg explained the need has been increasing for a while and he’s now concerned the organization will see a tremendous increase.
“All frontline emergency food providers are gearing up for another spike. It’s been one thing after another for three years now,” Camberg added.
The Oregon Food Bank said Oregonians who relied on these benefits are losing at least $95 a month — explaining the exact number varies by a families’ combined income and size.