(June 16, 2022) Hunger is a major problem in Oregon, with one in five people in our state accessing food assistance from the Oregon Food Bank in a typical year. The Covid-19 pandemic has made the issue dramatically worse and more Oregonians are facing food insecurity than ever. In 2020, the Oregon Food Bank helped provide food to 1.7 million people, twice its yearly average.
The problem persists, as one-million people sought assistance from the Oregon Food Bank last year, well above pre-pandemic levels. In a new video for the 2040 Portland Freight Plan (2040Freight) by the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), the Oregon Food Bank shares how their freight distribution system helps those in need and their hopes for a more sustainable transportation system in the future.
Providing an essential safety net to Oregonians is part of the Oregon Food Bank’s mission of eliminating hunger and addressing its root causes. Every day, Oregon Food Bank delivery drivers venture out onto Portland’s streets and use our transportation network to provide millions of pounds of food to families in need.
School closures intended to help reduce the spread of Covid-19, sadly resulted in food insecurity for millions of children and families who depended on the National School Lunch Program to access low-cost or free meals. Additionally the pandemic’s high unemployment left production and distribution systems without the ability to increase food supply or deliver it to meet demand. These disruptions resulted in empty shelves and higher prices on basic goods, while millions of people in already low-paid service jobs were left without work and the income needed to cover their grocery bills.
The Oregon Food Bank network is among the largest in the country, and its central warehouse provides resources to 21 regional food banks, which then support over 1,400 pantries, free food markets and meal sites across Oregon and Southwest Washington. Danny Faccinetti, Director of Operations at the Oregon Food Bank manages the resourcing and distribution of donated food including its warehousing and transportation from the central warehouse near the Portland airport. Every day, Faccinetti oversees millions of pounds of food from donors as it comes into the central warehouse on trucks, gets organized, and goes out on trucks to be delivered to their distribution partners in the community. Moving the food by trucks is essential to being able to get it out to people who need it and part of their strategy to distribute food equitably across the region.
Faccinetti says on some of Portland’s more-narrow streets it can be tricky to get trucks in and out of various pickup and drop-off sites. He hopes in the future people can safely move about the city with all different modes of transportation. He also hopes that the freight industry can think about sustainability “for the betterment of all of us” and work together to systemically address issues that are causing climate change “and that are causing other negative and dangerous effects of our dependency on fossil fuels.”
2040Freight is working to help make our urban freight movement safer, more equitable, efficient, and sustainable. The Oregon Food Bank video for PBOT’s 2040Freight Plan is the third in a series that will feature unique perspectives from within Portland’s urban freight system. Together, the videos will aim to elevate some of the range and diversity of freight movement in Portland and how the 2040Freight Plan will aim to support it in ways that are safe, equitable, efficient, and sustainable.
To watch more project videos, learn more, or sign up for project updates, visit www.2040Freight.com.