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Dairy group launches ‘Fighting Hunger’ food and cash drive

PD Staff Published on 28 June 2013

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Northwest Dairy Farmers and Fred Meyer stores launched a month-long “Northwest Farmers Fighting Hunger” food and cash drive to benefit Feeding America affiliates; Food Lifeline, 2nd Harvest and the Oregon Food Bank during June Dairy Month.

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The effort was supported by the Washington State Department of Agriculture and Oregon Department of Agriculture, and representatives from Washington and Oregon’s agricultural commodity commissions, and was led by the Dairy Farmers of Washington and Oregon.

Washington State Department of Agriculture Director Bud Hover and Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba have a keen interest in their states’ networks of emergency food providers and have toured local food banks.

“With all the food that is grown and enjoyed in Washington, no one should go hungry. Yet, today one in five of our neighbors require some assistance from a food bank,” Hover said.

“I hope that this food drive – and the partnerships among dairy farmers, ranchers and growers in both states – will bring us together so we can all help feed the hungry among us.”

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During June, collection bins were placed at every Fred Meyer store in Washington and Oregon to collect canned goods and other non-perishable food items.

A direct-mail postcard was sent to 136,000 select Fred Meyer customers.

The postcard featured a discount coupon for a local dairy product and also had a barcode that could be scanned at the checkout stand so shoppers could make a direct cash contribution to their local food assistance organization.

“Our goal is to raise $100,000 and 100,000 pounds of donated food,” said Jeff Steele, director of retail marketing and business development for the Washington Dairy Products Commission.

For many, June means the end of the school year, but for a seemingly increasing number, summer also means the end of the school breakfast and lunch programs until the fall.

The number of children qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches at Washington’s public schools has shot up from 390,000 in 2008 to 470,000 last year.

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June is also a difficult time for food banks.

During the holidays, people are very generous, but six months later donations tail off while the demand actually increases.

The USDA reports that the number of Washington families experiencing food insecurities has risen from 88,000 households in 2008 to 163,000 households in 2011 – a 90 percent increase.

That equates to 15.4 percent of Washington households who are regularly struggling to get enough food for their families.

It’s about .5 percent higher than the national average.

Hunger is at an all-time high in Oregon. In an average month, an estimated 270,000 people in Oregon and Clark County, Washington, ate meals from emergency food boxes during the past year. Of those, almost 92,000 were children.

“The agriculture departments in both states have done a great job of raising awareness about hunger and food challenges across the region,” added Steele.

“Dairy farmers in Washington and Oregon, along with Fred Meyer, are committed to reducing hunger and malnutrition by raising awareness of the problem and increasing access to nutrient-rich foods like dairy.” PD

PHOTOS
MIDDLE RIGHT: Mike Moran, food resource manager with the Oregon Food Bank, Katy Coba, director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Kaitie Brawley, Oregon State Dairy Princess-Ambassador at the launch of the food drive.

BOTTOM RIGHT: Amanda Ip with Fred Meyer stores, Julie Washburn with the Washington Food Coalition, Washington Dairy Ambassador Abby Lohman, Washington Dairy Products Commission mascot cow and Linda Nageottewith with Food Lifeline attended the launch event. Photos courtesy of Washington Dairy Products Commission.

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