Did you know that 13% of our neighbors in Central Oregon are experiencing food insecurity? According to Feeding America, food insecurity affects 26,960 people in Deschutes County, 3,060 residents in Crook County, and 2,900 residents in Jefferson County. Food insecurity is defined as “a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life (Feedamerica.org).” September is Hunger Action Month, which aims to bring awareness of hunger and inspire people to take action to help end hunger.
Benefits of eating healthy food like fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and lean protein, include, but are not limited to reducing your risk of different types of cancers, type two diabetes, obesity/overweight, heart disease, depression and anxiety, and many other illnesses. A lack of access to healthy food options has long-term physical and mental health impacts. Those experiencing food insecurity can find fresh healthy food difficult to access. For example, the current price of a head of conventional broccoli is $1.40 and organic broccoli is $1.95, but a box of macaroni and cheese is $1.40. A box of macaroni and cheese has more calories and is a more affordable way to feed yourself or your family, even though broccoli offers more health benefits than macaroni. There are so many factors that play a role in food insecurity. So often, individuals are forced to choose to pay their rent and utilities, medical bills, car payments, or family costs, including food. This can lead to cutting costs on food to cover other needs.
We at High Desert Food and Farm Alliance are just one of many local organizations that not only work to strengthen food security in Central Oregon but to also create a more just, sustainable food system. Our programs include VeggieRx, which is a free produce prescription program that provides fresh local produce to people who are experiencing food insecurity and diet-modifiable diseases. Another program is Grow & Give. Now in its eighth year, this fresh food drive has diverted over 26,528 pounds of fresh produce to NeighborImpact. The Fresh Harvest Kit program provides ready-to-make meal kits for those experiencing food insecurity. The kits contain fresh, locally grown produce, Savory Spice spices, pantry staples, and a recipe in English and Spanish. This program is available at seven sites across Central Oregon.
We are thankful for the great work of our partners. A local assistance organization called NeighborImpact recovered over 5 million pounds of food throughout Central Oregon in 2022. They partner with over 50 other food site agencies. Their Fresh Alliance program partners with 19 local grocery stores that reroute food from going into the landfill to food agencies in Deschutes County. A Bend and Sisters community kitchen, Family Kitchen, serves over 14,000 freshly made meals each month to people in the community. They deliver over 3,000 meals to shelters, and houseless and low-income housing each week. The Giving Plate has a Grocery, Mobile Kid’s Korner, Home Delivery, and a Backpacks for Bend program. In 2022, they helped over 31,000 residents by providing food and 14,700 kids through their Kid’s Korner program. The Giving Plate also collaborates with HDFFA to offer Fresh Harvest Kits! Bend Food Project is a local non-profit that partners with The Giving Plate. The Bend Food Project was started by local Bend residents and collects up to 29,000 pounds of non-perishable foods every two months to donate to The Giving Plate.
Wondering what you can do in our community to help end hunger? Donating your time, food, and/or money to these local agencies can make a significant impact in our community to help end hunger. If you are interested in volunteering with us at High Desert Food and Farm Alliance to support our Food Access programs, fill out our volunteer form!