More people are using area food banks, a signal that many are being left behind in a supposedly robust economy, which means regional assistance organizations will need more help this holiday season.

Statistics tell part of the story and that piece of the current tale of woe for those on the edge financially isn’t an uplifting one.

In Boardman, a food pantry that services residents in Morrow County showed an almost 150% increase in the number of people it served since 2020. The Salvation Army also reported a 50% increase in the number of people it served.

The nonprofit Community Connection of Northeast Oregon Inc. serves food banks in Grant, Baker, Union and Wallowa counties and its numbers have also climbed slightly this year compared to last.

The big picture, then, shows that rather than dropping off, the need at area food banks and pantries is still strong and could get a lot stronger as the holidays hover on the horizon.

Food banks and pantries across the region are not-for-profit organizations. That means they are wholly dependent on product from the state and donations. That’s where the rest of us come in.

While the needs of those on the financial edge always seem to garner attention during the holiday season, the need is year-round. We can’t forget, when Jan. 2 rolls around, those in need are still out there, still need help.

So first, those of us who can should donate to the local food bank as soon and as often as they can. Those donations don’t have to be only money or food. Many area banks also need personal-care items such as paper towels and toilet paper or laundry detergent.

Why help?

Besides the fact it is the humane thing to do, donating to a local food bank means you get to make a real difference now. Your donation, your assistance, will help a family or children survive. It’s that simple. Your help can be the difference between a family struggling to find food to being able to have dinner. While it may be hard to imagine for many of us, that is the case for many in our region.

So, let’s get together and help our local food banks and pantries. It will be a chance to deliver real change and to make a difference that will resonate in the future.

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