Food insecurity rate continues to decline in Oregon, but not to pre-recession levels

by Matt Newell-Ching and Myrna Jensen

As Congress negotiates a new Farm Bill and funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a new USDA report shows food insecurity continues to decline in Oregon.

According to the 2017 Household Food Security Report, the number of Oregonians struggling to put food on the table decreased from 14.6 percent in 2014-2016 to 12.9 percent in 2015-2017. However, Oregon has not yet reached its pre-recession level of 12.4 percent.

Nationwide, food insecurity declined from 12.3 percent in 2014-2016 to 11.8 percent in 2015-2017. Due in large part to historical injustices and discrimination, food insecurity rates continue to be higher among Black and Hispanic households as well as households with children headed by a single woman.

Oregon’s anti-hunger organizations point to effective federal nutrition programs, such as SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), as part of the reason for the decrease. They see it as critical not to undue efforts we know are helping Oregon make progress, like increased access to SNAP benefits.

We are appalled at proposals from Congress to make cuts to food assistance for people and families,says Annie Kirschner, executive director of Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon.

“Now is the time to strengthen SNAP, not cut it. The bottom line is that if these proposed cuts become law, more people will experience hunger in every corner of Oregon.”

Although Oregon’s unemployment is at its lowest since comparable records began in 1976, high costs for housing and stagnant wages mean many people are forced to choose between food and rent.

“We’re certainly encouraged by the decrease in food insecurity in the state. But September is Hunger Action Month and we aren’t willing to accept that one in eight Oregon households still don’t get enough to eat,” said Oregon Food Bank CEO Susannah Morgan. “We can continue to drive down that number by addressing the affordable housing crisis in the state. Statewide and Portland metro area housing ballot measures would be important steps forward in ensuring that Oregonians don’t have to make the difficult decision between rent and food.”


Additional Oregon specific data is forthcoming. The full report can be found here.