lack of an adequate food supply and the
hunger associated with it are a serious
problem in this state.
In fact, Washington has the
second-highest hunger rate in the United
States, second only to Oregon, according
to the Center on Hunger and Poverty
report on 1998-2000 data from Census
An alarming 289,000 households
representing 5 percent of the state
total are hungry at any given time
because they can't afford to buy food.
Researchers are perplexed as to why
Oregon, which topped the list at 6
percent, and Washington rank so high in
this sorry statistic.
But the picture could actually be
bleaker today since the data was
collected before the dot-com economy
went in the tank and before Boeing laid
off thousands of workers.
As much as anything, the statistic is
an economic indicator, reminding us that
the working poor of this state are not
making enough money to make ends meet.
Without family wage jobs, hunger can
come knocking on the door.
And without a full economic recovery,
the numbers, which are an economic
indicator of sorts, are likely to grow
It's a condition the operators of the
320 food banks statewide know all too
The five food banks in Thurston
County are serving about 1,600 families
per month, or nearly 60,000 individuals
in the past year.
"It's not the bums sitting on
the streets," noted Susan Eichrodt,
program manager for the state's
Emergency Food Assistance Program.
"It's actual working
What we're seeing in the statistics
in part is a tale of two Washingtons:
the urban and rural, the have and
For instance, food bank usage in the
state's 31 rural counties increased 26
percent between 1997 and 2000, Eichrodt
By comparison, the eight urban
counties saw a 6 percent increase.
In fiscal year 2001, food bank visits
statewide totaled 5.5 million, shooting
up to 6.2 million in fiscal year 2002,
which just ended July 31.
The average client visits a food bank
five times a year.
"We're seeing more and more of
the working poor," Eichrodt added.
The study by the Center on Hunger and
Poverty based at Brandeis University in
Waltham, Mass., also tracks food
Food insecurity occurs whenever the
availability of nutritionally adequate
and safe foods is limited or uncertain.
During the three-year study period,
Washington had the 10th-highest rate of
food insecurity in the nation with a
total of 12.93 percent of all
households. The national rate was 10.8
The collective data on hunger and
food insecurity is one more compelling
reason to support local food banks
through donations of food and money.
And it brings home the need for a
healthy economy and family wage jobs.
Comment: So let's look at the
scorecard: We are # 12 of the 12 western
being anti-business; we have the HCP,
the Northwest Forest Plan, the full
impacts of ESA and the CWA, with
Stormwater Regulations looming; and
had a Democrat as Governor for almost 18
years and why are we #2 on the
Plus a 2 billion dollar hole in our
How much better can it get.