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Oregon is the hungriest state in the entire nation

by: BARB RANDALL In terms of food insecurity, Oregon ranks first in the nation. Barb Randall encourages all to donate to food banks and share extra produce from your garden.

I'm mad.

I just finished proofing the Review's editorial page for the Sept. 15 paper and there it was in black and white: Oregon children are our nation's hungriest.

Just two weeks ago in the Sept. 8 Portland Tribune our colleague, Peter Korn, reported that same reality. He cited from the 2009 Feeding America report that Oregon had the highest rate of childhood hunger in the nation. According to the report, a whopping 29 percent of Oregon children face food insecurity, compared to the national average of 23 percent.

We weren't always this hungry, though it has been an issue for at least the past decade. We were number one in the nation in 'food insecurity' - a fancy phrase for saying we didn't know when or from where our next meal was coming - in 2000 and eased into 17th place in 2005. When I wrote about our hunger in 2009, government reports showed Oregon had climbed back into the No. 2 spot for hunger in the nation. This was 18 or more months into our current recession and food banks across the nation were overwhelmed with requests for assistance.

And in spite of the valiant efforts of food banks, extension service nutritional instruction programs, and charitable agencies, apparently we aren't making headway in solving hunger. Oregon families are still skipping meals and reducing portion sizes to make ends meet.

We are much more willing to talk about childhood obesity or the nutritional makeup of school lunches than of hunger. We're much more willing to speculate how the jobless rate affects hunger or how Oregon's high housing costs and lower-income jobs leave little left to spend on food.

Kids who are hungry can't concentrate on learning. Being hungry affects their health and their brain development.

Are you OK with that?

Neither am I.

It's going to be up to us - you and me - to feed our hungry. If each of us donates some food to a food bank this week, and again next week and again the following week, etc., maybe - just maybe, we can ease the ache of empty tummies for our children.

OK, I'm no longer mad, but that doesn't change that kids are hungry. Feed them, please.

If your garden is producing more food that you can use, some food banks will accept it to pass along to clients. If you planted zucchini share with your friends and neighbors and try this recipe for a fresh twist on the old standard.

Bon Appetit! Share food with others!

Lemon Zucchini Salad with Tomatoes and Sweet Corn

Serves 4 and multiplies easily

5 small or 3 medium zucchini, shaved into very thin strips (use a mandolin or vegetable peeler)

Juice of one large lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Warm Garlic Oil:

1 small to medium onion, cut into ¼ inch dice

3 large cloves garlic, minced

8 fresh basil leaves, torn

½ cup good tasting extra virgin olive oil

kernels cut from 2 to 3 large ears of fresh corn, or about 3 cups frozen corn, defrosted

2 one-pint baskets small tomatoes (grape, black heirlooms or whatever tastes good) halved or left whole

Dressing:

2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

2/3 cup sour cream

1 tightly-packed tablespoon fresh basil or parsley leaves, torn

In a colander set over a bowl, toss together the zucchini, lemon juice, salt and pepoper, and let the mixture stand while you pull together the rest of the dish.

Have 4 dinner plates set up. In a medium microwave-proof bowl, combine the onion, garlic, basil leaves and olive oil with a little salt and pepper. Cover with a paper towel and microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave, stir in the corn and set aside.

Pat the zucchini strips dry and divide them between the four plates so they're heaped in the center of each one. Save the liquid in the bowl. Divide the tomatoes between the plates, piling them atop the zucchini. Then spoon the corn, oil, onion and garlic mixture over the tomatoes.

Drizzle a tablespoon of more of the zucchini liquid over each salad. Finally, streak the dressing over each salad and serve.

* * *

Hey, friends - have you got a recipe for lamb or cabrito that causes your friends and family to swoon? Then you better enter it into the Grand Lamb and Cabrito Cook-OFFF this weekend at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds. The Cook-OFFF is one of the events planned for the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (OFFF) happening at the fairgrounds this weekend.

You can cook your entry at home or at the 4-H Kitchen at the fairgrounds. Amateurs are judged beginning at noon on Saturday, Sept. 24, and professionals will be judged beginning at noon on Sunday, Sept. 25.

First prize in both categories is $300, second prize is $200 and third prize is $100. Every participant is given a cut of lamb, courtesy of SuDan Farms.

If you need lamb for your recipe they can help you with that, too. Call Dan Wilson at 971-219-3884 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 503-635-8811.