DHS news release
Nov. 23, 2005
Contacts: Patricia Feeny, DHS, (503) 945-6955
Nancy Weed, Hunger Relief Task Force, (503) 988-6194
Oregon ranked No.1 in the nation for food stamp participation
For the second consecutive year, Oregon leads the nation in helping families who are hungry.
In 2003, 83 percent of eligible Oregonians received food stamps, a rate well above the national average of 56 percent. The participation rate was 80 percent in 2002. The federal program is administered through the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS).
"The high level of participation can be attributed to the collaborative outreach efforts of our hunger relief partners, including the Oregon Hunger Relief Task Force and Oregon Food Bank Network," said Dr. Bruce Goldberg, DHS director. "We will continue to find ways to increase public awareness so that we can reach the thousands of Oregonians who are eligible but not using the program."
The Food Stamp Program provides support to low-income households and to those making the transition from welfare to work. It enables low-income families to buy nutritious food with Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards.
Statewide participation in the federal Food Stamp Program increased 8 percent from Jan. 1, 2003, to Dec. 31, 2004. Participation increased 18 percent in Washington, Benton and Polk counties.
In October 2005, a total of 431,294 Oregonians were receiving food stamps, an increase of 482 participants from the prior month. Historically, children, the elderly and people with disabilities make up the largest portion of food stamp participants. But because federal guidelines now allow states to use a higher income standard to determine eligibility, more low-income working families are able to participate.
In addition to providing a valuable source of food for many Oregon families, the federal food program benefits the local economy.
Every $5 in food stamps generates almost $10 in economic activity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2004, Oregonians used their food stamps to purchase $427 million worth of groceries, generating $811 million in economic activity. The average food stamp benefit equals about a dollar per person per meal.