Willamette Valley Hunger Challenge

A Community Food Insecurity Experience

A Greater Need

Hunger throughout the Willamette Valley has increased greatly this past year due to unexpected and uncontrollable circumstances and many families – our neighbors – are finding themselves for the first time needing food assistance.

Feeding America estimates that 35% of people visiting a food pantry are seeking help for the first time, as those who previously had a stable income are suddenly unable to put food on the table because of a job loss, reduction of hours, or in parts of our community loss of their home due to wildfires.

Get Involved

We invite you to join us in the inaugural Willamette Valley Hunger Challenge, November 15-22, to bring attention to hunger and food insecurity in our community as part of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

Participants will:

  • Gain a better understanding of and empathy for the difficult choices food insecure families face
  • Learn more about hunger, food insecurity, and their root causes
  • Discover how our community is working together to find solutions
  • Find ways to support local nonprofits working to end hunger

There are two Challenge options:

Budget Option

hands holding shopping list over grocery cart in store

This option of the Challenge highlights what it is like to eat on the maximum SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefit – approximately $45 a week, or $6.38 a day for a single person. The purpose is not to imitate the reality of food insecurity, but to instead bring focus to the experience of living on a strict food budget. You will discover how such strict restrictions could change your daily life both physically and psychologically during this time.

Learn more about the Budget Option.

Fasting Option

group of young people seated on chairs talking

This option of the Challenge strives to acknowledge families in our community who are facing hunger and food insecurity, while also physically feeling hunger ‘pangs’ when we are not able to eat when our bodies crave it. Participants will choose a length of time to go without food (in accord with their own personal health and safety), and during that time, focus their thoughts on those kids and adults in our community who are experiencing hunger. Fasting, reflecting, and sharing with friends and family will deepen your understanding.

Learn more about the Fasting Option.

Partners of the Willamette Valley Hunger Challenge

Many organizations across the Willamette Valley address hunger, food insecurity, and their root causes. Below is a list of nonprofit partners in this year’s Challenge. Click on a partner’s logo to go to their respective website where you can see what they do and donate to support their mission.

Please consider donating as much as you can to support the costly work they do. All the partners collectively say Thank You for your participation and financial support!

salem harvest logo
Farmers Ending Hunger
salem harvest logo
McMinnville Yamhill County Gleaners

“We are working to end food insecurity through a unique partnership of farmers, ranchers, food processors and the public. Please Adopt an Acre and help bring fresh local food to hungry Oregon families.”

— John Burt, Exec. Director, Farmers Ending Hunger

“We have made strides to address food insecurity by partnering with Marion Polk Food Share and OSU Extension Services’ Neighborhood Fresh Connect program that provides, at no cost, fresh fruits and vegetables to our patients twice a month. In 2019 we served 231 distinct patients through this program.” 

Northwest Human Services

“Through trusting relationships, parents allow our staff into their lives and this gets food to the children who need it most. Food plays a vital role in all of our programming, from classroom meals to food boxes delivered through home visits.”

– Patrice Alternhofen, Director, Family Building Blocks

“We partner with Marion Polk Food Share to provide Food Baskets twice a week to those in need. We also offer meals 6 days a week to our friends in the homeless community. These are provided by partnering churches and various other groups who assist us to serve with love and grace.”

– Noelle Gore, Leadership Team, Church at the Park

“Although the reasons for food insecurity are complex, Salem Harvest’s solution is straightforward and cost effective. The Willamette Valley grows an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables; our staff and volunteers harvest and deliver this fresh food to hungry families at no charge.”

– Rob Easton, Board President, Salem Harvest

When we all come together, we can create the kind of community we want to live in – a healthy community, where everyone has the food they need to thrive.

Rick Gaupo, President, Marion Polk Food Share

A different approach to helping families in need.

Marci Mattoso, Executive Director, Hope Station Community Services

Community Action ARCHES and HOME Youth Services have provided over 20,000 meals since the beginning of 2020 to the community’s at-risk, vulnerable, and homeless adults and youth. Community Action Agency is happy to support the Willamette Valley Hunger Challenge!

Ryan Pollard, Community Engagement Coordinator, Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency

Invite Others

Being able to share your thoughts, struggles, accomplishments, and discoveries with others in your life will deepen your experience.

Have it be a group thing.

Invite everyone you know!

Connect With Us

A Word From Our Sponsor

Salem Harvest is a local nonprofit organization whose mission is to hand-harvest fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste — and to distribute the food, at no charge, to children, families, and others in our community who need it.

It’s a distressingly sad fact, according to statistics from 2016, that Oregon had the fifth highest rate of childhood hunger in America.  At that time, Oregon was tied for fifth among the general populations of the top 10 hungriest states.

Here locally, in 2019, Marion County had an estimated 11.8% level of food insecurity.  This already-too-high level is projected to rise to 17.3% in 2020; a daunting percentage increase of over 46%.

We find those statistics to be appalling.  As a community, we should join together to establish our own COMMUNITY ETHIC; one which embraces a vision and mission something like this:

“The twin scourges of food insecurity and hunger are deeply harmful — especially to the children of our community.  These maladies are unacceptable to us, and we won’t permit them to exist.  It’s our collective mission to always do whatever we must to reduce and eradicate them.”

Salem Harvest has taken the lead role in orchestrating the FIRST “Willamette Valley Hunger Challenge/A Community Food Insecurity Experience.”  Salem Harvest is partnering with other local nonprofits whose work includes providing food to kids and families.  In collaboration, they are reaching out to the entire community — to ask those of us who live here to personally participate in the event, in whatever manner, and at whatever level, we choose.

We’ve come to know and highly respect the fine work of Salem Harvest and its partner organizations as “food providers.”  To honor their ever-ongoing body of work, we’re proud to be the Co-Founders, in direct cooperation with Salem Harvest, of this community-wide Challenge.

We ask that everyone who can please JOIN US in pledging your personal support to this widely impactful “awareness event.”  We believe you and yours will have an unforgettable and remarkable personal experience.

We want to say a big THANKS! In advance to all individual participants.

THANKS!, too, to all of Salem Harvest’s nonprofit partners, for all they DO — day-in and day-out — to find food for folks.  What could be more important?

No one wants to suffer food insecurity and/or the pangs of hunger — NO ONE.

Craig and Cherie Cline

Join The Challenge

Privacy PolicyTerms Of ServiceCookie Policy