02-19-2017  10:46 pm      •     

Oregon had 12.4 percent of its population, about 458,000 people, living in households that struggled with hunger or were "food insecure" during the 2005-2007 period, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recently released annual report.
Food insecurity is the USDA term given to describe households that struggle with affording enough food. Nationally, more than 36.2 million people lived in households that were food insecure in 2007 – up from 35.5 million in 2006 and 33.2 million in 2000.
"We were expecting to see an increase in food insecurity because wages have not kept up with the cost of basic items such as food, shelter and utilities," said Patti Whitney-Wise, executive director of the Oregon Hunger Task Force. "We have seen a rapid rise in food stamp applications, more than 50,000 new people over the past year, bringing the total to nearly 500,000 Oregonians.
"What worries us most is that this report covers information from a year ago," she said. "Everything we are seeing in Oregon tells us that a new survey taken today would undoubtedly show considerably higher numbers of food insecure people."
Oregon was named as the "Hungriest State in the Nation" in 2000. The Task Force and other anti-hunger advocates worked closely with Governor Ted Kulongoski to bring attention to the issue and created the Act to End Hunger, a 5-year  plan to reduce hunger in Oregon.
A total of 26 of its 40 listed "actions" were completed, advocates say. In 2005, Oregon dropped from number 1 to 17, a statistically significant improvement. However, rising joblessness, falling wages, and rapidly rising food and fuel costs have meant that more and more families are stretched to the limit and beyond.
"Oregon's unemployment rate is 7.3 percent, and people are competing for scarcer jobs," Whitney-Wise says. "To get us through this crisis we need to preserve safety net services, on both the state and federal level."
The Task Force has asked the Governor to prioritize human services in his 2009-11 budget. The Task Force has also joined the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) in calling for Congress to pass an economic recovery package that first and foremost includes an extension to unemployment insurance and a boost in SNAP/Food Stamps benefits (SNAP is the acronym for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the new national name for the Food Stamp Program). 
During his campaign, President-elect Barack Obama committed to end childhood hunger in this country by 2015. The Task Force has joined FRAC in pledging to work with the new administration, the 111th Congress, and state and local officials to put this plan into motion. 
"People with the lowest incomes face the most serious threats," said Whitney-Wise. "We must not fail to invest in rebuilding our economy while also preventing hunger and poverty."
Each year, the Census Bureau measures food insecurity through a series of household survey questions about the ability to obtain enough food for an active, healthy life for all members.
To report food insecurity in each state, USDA uses three-year averages to compensate for limited sample sizes and give a better estimate of the number of households experiencing hunger.
The mission of the Oregon Hunger Task Force, created by the Oregon Legislature in 1989, is to end hunger in Oregon. For more information go to www.oregonhunger.org.
The report is available at http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/FoodSecurity.

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. 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Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. 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