If you've finished digesting that turkey dinner — and all the leftovers — it's time to give a thought to the many residents of our community who need help keeping food on the table this time of year and all year long.
Monday's Mail Tribune included a grocery bag and a request that you fill it with nutritious food for ACCESS Inc.'s annual Food For Hope drive. The drive starts every year after Thanksgiving and lasts until New Year's Eve.
Last week, we noted in this space that food insecurity in Oregon — defined as a lack of access to safe and nutritious food — is on the rise here, even as it is falling across the country. Oregon now ranks sixth-worst in the nation for food insecurity and eighth-worst for hunger.
That editorial was about the need for good-paying jobs in rural Oregon and the skill training to help people qualify for them. That's one long-term fix for the gap between urban and rural parts of the state.
The short-term need is more immediate, and it involves food. Even if the 2017 Legislature responds to the long-term need for good jobs, it will take time for the benefits to reach those struggling from paycheck to paycheck.
In the meantime, ACCESS serves 9,000 low-income families in Jackson Country through its network of 24 food pantries. The food assistance often means the difference between making it to the end of the month and having to skip meals because there isn't enough money left.
That goes for working families as well as those who don't have jobs. But even families on public assistance find it hard to stretch limited resources. ACCESS Nutrition Director Philip Yates says a month's allotment of food stamps generally runs out in 2½ to three weeks.
The goal of this year's drive is 30,000 pounds of food and $40,000 in cash donations. Cash is especially welcome because ACCESS can use its bulk buying power to provide five pounds of food — enough for four meals — for every dollar donated. Cash also pays the power bills for refrigeration, buys fuel for trucks and keeps the lights on.
Food is also welcome, over the holiday season and all year long. The annual drive helps sustain the food pantries into the new year.
So fill that bag and drop it off at a variety of locations, including all Umpqua Bank branches, Sherm's Thunderbird and Food 4 Less, all fire stations and several local churches. Find the complete list in Monday's paper or at http://bit.ly/2fYWz9u.
Send financial donations to ACCESS, P.O. Box 4666, Medford, OR 97501, or donate online at www.accesshelps.org.