Marion-Polk Food Share
Childhood Hunger in Marion and Polk Counties
Many families in our community are dealing with the challenges of making ends meet on limited incomes—they are being forced to make the unfortunate and tough choices between food, medicine, rent and gas money. We know how dramatic the need really is, and its impact on children.
Children who live in food insecure households are at risk in many ways, creating problems that are striking in their immediate consequences and tragic in their long-term effects. They are more likely to be in poorer health and to experience considerable psychological and emotional distress. Under-nutrition, even mild to moderate malnutrition, is a developmental risk factor. Children from food insecure households do not perform as well on academic achievement tests and have higher rates of school absence. They are less likely to form friendships, to be curious, to learn. Childhood hunger can produce impairments remaining throughout life. The costs to our communities are great in lost productivity and in increased social services over their lifetimes.
According to 2009 data from Children First for Oregon, 22.5% of children in Marion County are in
poverty (18,489 children), and 15.2% of children in Polk County are in poverty (2,509).
According to Marion-Polk Food Share statistics for the Salem area, 44% of those eating from a food box
are children. That’s 11% higher than the statewide rate for children receiving emergency food assistance, according to the 2009-10 Oregon Food Bank Hunger Factors Survey.
In Marion County, 59.2% of all school-age children are eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program. This translates to a total of 35,704 children; with 87% (31,080) receiving a free lunch, and 13% (4,624) receiving a reduced-price lunch. To receive a free lunch, you must be at 130% of poverty (or less), which means earning $28,665 per year or less for a family of four. To receive a reduced-price lunch, you must be at 185% of poverty (or less), which means earning $40,793 per year or less for a family of four. (Source: Oregon Dept. of Education, 2010-11)
In Polk County, 51.2% (3,378) of all school-age children qualify for the free or reduced-price lunch program. Nearly 88.5% (2,989) were eligible for a free lunch and 11.5% (389) receiving a reduced-price lunch. (Source: Oregon Dept. of Education, 2010-11)
In 16 Salem-Keizer schools, 80% or more of the children are receiving a free or reduced-price lunch.
Up the Santiam Canyon, 53.42% of children of the 5,546 children enrolled in Cascade, Jefferson and North Santiam school districts are eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program. In Falls City, 125 of the 154 children (81.2%) in the school system are receiving a free or reduced-price lunch. In Woodburn, 76.9% of students (4,166) are eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program. In Gervais, 84.1% (934)
of the 1,111 students enrolled in school are eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program.
Currently 59.2% of school-age children in Marion County and 51.2% of Polk County’s children are
eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program. This translates to nearly 39,100 children in our two-county area who rely on this program to fulfill both their food and nutritional needs.
Begun in 1993, after area teachers expressed concern about the lack of food service for school children during spring break, the “No Hungry Child” Spring Break lunch program has been providing lunches for children ages 1-18. It started with only a few sites in Salem/Keizer and expanded to sites throughout the two-county region in 2007. In 2011, more than 7,100 lunches were served at 35 sites.
Marion-Polk Food Share administered summer lunch programs during 2008 and 2009 at several rural sites throughout the two-county region. In 2010, school districts stepped up to meet the summer lunch needs.
The 2011 Poverty Guidelines for the
48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia
Persons in family Poverty guideline
For families with more than 8 persons, add $3,820 for each additional person.