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The time of giving is here, and the need is great

This is the time of year when local food banks stock their shelves and replenish their bank accounts to get through the rest of the year, and it’s the time when we urge everyone who is able to contribute what they can. It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: This year, the need is greater than ever.

In 2020, a year we all will be happy to see dwindle in the rear-view mirror, the nation was hit with the worst public health threat in a century, a pandemic that forced an economic shutdown, throwing many out of work. The consequences of that are still being felt, and now a second wave of infections has led to renewed restrictions, even as unemployment benefits and eviction moratoriums are about to run out.

Southern Oregon and other parts of the state as well suffered a second calamity: the Labor Day wildfires that left thousands without homes or possessions.

The Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, which has tracked reports of economic well-being in the country weekly since April, combined with other data, paints a grim picture. Tens of millions of Americans are unemployed, and many of them report difficulty obtaining enough to eat, while also having trouble paying their rent.

A Washington Post story in Friday’s Mail Tribune reported one in eight Americans said they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the past week, according to data collected in late October and early November. That’s nearly 26 million adults, more than the highest pre-pandemic figure.

In Oregon, the bipartisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities says 262,000 people reported not having enough to eat during that period — 9% of all adults in the state. The number of households with children was 112,000 — 11% of adults living with children.

You can help. ACCESS Inc. is launching its annual Food for Hope drive through the end of the year. As always, donations of nonperishable food are always welcome, but cash gifts are even more effective, because ACCESS can use its buying power to obtain enough food for four meals with every dollar collected. And collecting food donations is more difficult than usual because of the pandemic restrictions.

This year, the Mail Tribune and Ashland Tidings will insert donation envelopes in the Wednesday, Dec. 2 editions. Watch for those envelopes, and mail them in with your check. Or donate online.

If you would rather give food, bags may be picked up at Food 4 Less or Sherm’s Thunderbird markets and filled with nonperishable food items. Drop off bags at ACCESS, 3630 Aviation Way, Medford; Sherm’s Thunderbird, 2347 W. Main St., Medford; or Food 4 Less, 2230 Biddle Road, Medford. Filled grocery bags should be dropped off by Dec. 31.

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