Urban Gleaners and Childhood Hunger

Childhood Hunger Forum & Urban Gleaning

This is a guest post by Ava Mikolavich, Director, Urban Gleaners. They are hosting a Childhood Hunger Forum May 30 at the MercyCorps Action Center, 45 SW Ankeny, Portland OR. Find out more here.


Portland has developed a national reputation for a thriving and innovative food culture. As Portlander eaters we cultivate creativity, support CSAs, foster festivals like Feast and promote food-truck pods. Portland can only support this roaring food scene with the spoils from the fertile Willamette Valley agricultural economy. Our food scene is a direct reflection of a similarly booming small-farm economy and the relationships built between farmers and eaters. And Portlanders rejoice both loudly and with vigor in this local bounty.

But before we can congratulate ourselves on a job-well-done, we must take a step back to look at the more sinister side of our food system; a side that is often overshadowed by the glitz of the gourmand.

In stark contrast to our agricultural preeminence, Oregon currently ranks 10th in the nation for childhood hunger. That means that as many as 1 in 5 children in Oregon goes to bed hungry. The issue of childhood hunger is particularly acute in East Multnomah County where 75 to 90% of elementary-aged students are food insecure. Even with a bevy of social services, such as emergency food assistance from organizations like the Oregon Food Bank and Snow-Cap, families of these hungry students often don’t know where their next meal will come from.

As many as 1 in 5 children in Oregon goes to bed hungry.

This is where Urban Gleaners steps in. Urban Gleaners rescues edible surplus food from grocery stores, restaurants, farmers markets and farms that would otherwise be thrown away. They redistribute this food through the local school system to students and their families suffering from chronic hunger. With their thriving Food to Schools program Urban Gleaners is able to feed 800 students and their families through 17 partner school food pantries. Each pantry receives a weekly donation of over 500 lbs., including whole grain breads, healthy proteins, dairy and fresh produce.

In operation since 2006, Urban Gleaners continually expands their childhood hunger programming, working towards a future Portland (and Oregon) where no child goes hungry. This is a commitment towards our future generation. Research has show that children who are hungry are more likely to:

  • suffer from chronic health conditions and spend more time in emergency rooms
  • be behind in academic development
  • exhibit behavior problems
  • have significant mental health challenges including suicidal thoughts

In an effort to bring light to the issue of childhood hunger Urban Gleaners will host the inaugural Childhood Hunger Forum. The Forum will feature engaging conversations with nationally recognized anti-hunger champions: Anna Lappé of the Small Planet Institute, LaDonna Redmond of the Campaign for Food Justice Now, and Patti Whitney-Wise of Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon. All three speakers will focus on how deeply embedded the issue of childhood hunger is in our economic systems and explore solutions for a more food-secure future.

Panel Date and Location

Friday May 30
9 am to 1 pm.

MercyCorps Action Center
45 SW Ankeny, Portland OR

Committed Sponsors

Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Vibrant Village
New Seasons
Multnomah County, Department of Human Services

Please consider attending this event and contribute to the discussion, and the solution, to ending childhood hunger in Oregon.

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