For the first time, the Oregon Food Bank has distributed more than 1 million emergency food boxes in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011, the Oregon Food Bank Network of 20 regional outlets and 923 partner agencies, including St. Helens' Columbia Pacific Food Bank, had distributed a record 81 million pounds of food and provided 1,024,000 emergency food boxes, a 12 percent increase from the previous year.

'I have never seen the demand for emergency food this high,' said Rachel Bristol, Oregon Food Bank's chief operating officer.

The food bank network has seen its food box distribution increase 30 percent since the nation slipped into recession in December 2007. The food bank network has distributed almost a 250,000 more food boxes annually than it did before the recession.

In an average month, an estimated 260,000 people in Oregon and Clark County, Wash., ate meals from emergency food boxes, according to the Oregon Food Bank. Of those, almost 86,000 were children.

In addition, soup kitchens served 3.9 million meals during the past year. And 98,000 people received supplemental food through other food bank network agencies and programs.

-Pamplin Media Group

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