food stamps

Rita Hibbard's picture

Putting healthy food back in the communities where it's grown

rita_hibbardwebAn Oregon woman has dedicated her professional life to traveling to Oregon's remote corners and establishing food banks. She routinely finds that those “who live near the fields of plenty often have the stingiest access to grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and meat,” reports Paige Parker of The Oregonian.

Sharon Thornberry has been named a public health genius by the Community Health Partnership for her work at pointing out how hunger and gaps in the food system contribute to chronic disease and health problems. She looks back to her own experience raising children in poverty, and turning to the  cheapest and unhealthiest food to get by – products like boxed mac and cheese and hot dogs.

Thornberry’s work points to the problem – big grocers aren’t in the small towns where it’s hard to make money. Yet those are the communities closest to where the food is produced.

"It's ridiculous that you can stand in the ranching community of Jordan Valley and there are thousands of cattle around you that get shipped around the world, and you can't get any of that ground beef locally," Thornberry says. "The best you can do is get chicken strips and jo-jos from the convenience store. When the best grocery store in town is the emergency food pantry, there's a problem."

A new study shows that by age 20, half of America's kids will need food stamps. So it's important to make sure healthy foods are available in all communities, and on the shelves of the local food banks, Thornberry believes.

-- Rita Hibbard

Carol Smith's picture

Demand for safety net grows

The recession has caused a 30 percent spike among Utah residents looking for financial assistance, reports Julia Lyon of the Salt Lake Tribune. Although only 6,797 people are on the "Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, many more - 83,385 -- are asking for basic help to eat. The state is now considering easing the eligibility requirements so more households can receive assistance with food and other basic necessities.

The effects of the recession are sometimes hard to track by the numbers. In Provo, for example, homelessness is down - but that could be because people are relocating to Salt Lake City and other areas that have more shelters, the Associated Press reports.

One in six Oregonians now on food stamps

The number of Oregonians on food stamps has increased 28 percent, and now about one in six residents of the state is eligible, Oregon Public Broadcasting's Kristian Foden-Vencil reports. A family of four is eligible on earnings of $800 a month or less.

People going hungry in WA's farm belt

We believe this qualifies as true irony: More than 10 percent of the people living in one of the country's richest farm belts don't know where their next meal is coming from. Ingrid Stegemoeller of Washington's Tri-City Herald writes that the food stamp program in the area -- near a lot of farms as well as the Hanford Nuclear Reservation -- is now allowing food-stamp recipients to spend their coupons at farmer's markets. The story is ostensibly about the food-stamp program but provides a good overall look at the need in Benton and Franklin counties in south-central Washington.