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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Food Insecurity Rises In Oregon, Bucking National Trend

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With Thanksgiving on the mind of most people this week, a new report shows the number of Oregonians who aren't sure where their next meal is coming from continues to rise.

The Oregon Center for Public Policy crunched the data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest national report. It found that over the past three years, the percentage of Oregon households with low food security rose at the highest rate of any state in the nation.

The center's Juan Carlos Ordonez said the timing of their report -- Thanksgiving week -- was no accident.

"Certainly in this time of the year, people are thinking about food and coming together as families and sharing a meal,” he said. :And so there's no better time to really highlight the struggles that many families in our state face when it comes to putting food on the table."

The USDA describes "food insecure households" as those that lack enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.

Ordonez said some possible reasons for Oregon's rising food insecurity include a lack of affordable housing and affordable childcare. Nationally, the percentage of food insecure households dropped during the same period.

The USDA data examined the years 2013-2015 and compared them to the years 2010-2012. The percentage of Oregon households experiencing food insecurity rose 18.4 percent, the highest increase in the nation. The national average fell 6.8 percent over the same years.

In Washington state, the percentage of food insecure households fell 11.6 percent during those years.