The pandemic caused historically high demands for food assistance in Oregon, demands that remained high through this year.
But things could change with the implementation of the Biden administration’s plan to end hunger by 2030. Biden on Wednesday announced a plan to use $8 billion in public — and private — sector commitments to expand food stamps and other sources of food assistance, and provide medical coverage for nutrition counseling.
Food assistance advocates say the lofty plan is a comprehensive approach to address growing needs for help, particularly as food prices skyrocket.
“I have a lot of optimism that we can put the spotlight on public policy that will really make a difference and help us set a new path for the next half a century,” said Oregon Food Bank CEO Susannah Morgan in an interview with OPB’s “Think Out Loud.”
The Oregon Food Bank estimates that by the end of this year, 1.5 million Oregonians will have sought food assistance. That is a slight decrease from the 1.7 million Oregonians who sought assistance in 2020, but it’s also still much higher than the 860,000 who needed assistance in 2019.
It’s been 53 years since the White House held a conference to address hunger in the states. Shortly after the last conference in 1969, hosted by President Richard Nixon, the U.S. implemented major changes to its food policy, including expanding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps.
Many components of Biden’s plan — like expanding SNAP eligibility and providing more free meals to children in schools — rely on congressional approval.
Editor’s Note: The Oregon Food Bank has been an OPB sponsor in the past.