The Clark County Food Bank is the central feeder for 29 smaller food pantries where people go to pick up provisions, from La Center’s relatively new Lewis River Mobile Food Bank project to Washougal’s long-standing Inter-Faith Treasure House.
In fiscal 2012, the Clark County Food Bank distributed more than 3.9 million pounds of food products to those frontline pantries, which packed the food into more than 121,000 emergency food boxes. That’s 7,000 more boxes than 2011’s total of just under 114,000. Approximately 39 percent of the hungry people who ate thanks to those boxes were children.
According to a 2011 report by the Chicago nonprofit Feeding America, 28 percent of Clark County children (31,160 individuals) and 17.3 percent of all Clark County residents (72,140 individuals) are “food insecure,” meaning they can’t count on a reliable supply of enough nutritious food for a healthy lifestyle, and may go hungry or trade off food against other basic needs.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture ranks Washington as the 14th hungriest state in the nation. A 2011 survey found that 15.4 percent of households in the state were food insecure and another 6.5 percent were “very low food secure”; in other words, nearly 22 percent of Washington households experienced some hunger. A survey of Washington women ages 18-44 found that about 16 percent had cut the size or number of meals in their household because they lacked the money to provide more. Nearly 20 percent of high school students reported missing meals because of money.
More than 1 million Washingtonians participated in the state’s Basic Food Program in 2010, according to the state.
One in six Americans lives below the poverty line of $23,000 annual household income for a family of four, according to Feeding America.