44% of Lane County Households can’t afford basics needs.
That alarming statistic is according to the 2018 ALICE Report released in May by United Way of Lane County. ALICE — or Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed — is a study of financial hardship in Oregon.
“Just three years ago, our region was first introduced to a population that many of us were aware of, if not part of: ALICE,” said Jim Cooper, President & CEO, United Way of Pacific Northwest. “ALICE households work hard, sometimes in two or three jobs, but still cannot afford to make ends meet. The first United Way ALICE Report helped identify and highlight the struggles of ALICE in the Pacific Northwest. But awareness is only the first step. We need to do more to help ALICE families achieve financial stability, which in turn strengthens our communities.”
FFLC serves these working families struggling to make ends meet every day.
During the school year, Jennifer works in the kitchen at Harrison Elementary in Cottage Grove. During the summer, she also works as a site supervisor for FFLC’s Summer Food Program, serving free lunches to children and teens. When Jennifer was younger, her family needed our summer lunch program.
“My mom was a single parent and worked two jobs,” said Jennifer. “She worked really hard, but it was still a struggle to put food on the table. During the summer I was responsible for taking care of my brother. We used the FOOD for Lane County free lunch program every day that we could. We relied on that program. I don’t know what we would have done without it.”
Our Summer Food Program is one way we are helping working families with children fill the meal gap during the summer when free school meals are not available. FFLC operates one of the largest free summer meals programs in the state. Last summer we provided 82,000 meals to children ages 2 to 18 at 54 sites throughout Lane County.
More than one in five (24%) children in Lane County are food insecure. More than half (53%) of Lane County children qualify for free meals during the school year. Thirty percent of the people FFLC serves are children.
Jennifer sees childhood hunger at school and is helping to make a difference.
“I know a lot of kids only get one meal a day. That’s a scary thing to think about. With this program I can reach a lot more people, and that makes me very happy. I enjoy being involved in something that’s worthwhile. It makes me feel really good about life.”
Jennifer loves being a mom. It’s the most important job she has.
“I hope my kids can be successful and happy in life. I hope they don’t have to struggle like I did. I will go without a meal before my kids go without. I’ll make sure they have something to eat because that’s what you do as a mom. That’s what you do as a parent.”
Learn more about FFLC’s Summer Food Program.
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