PORTLAND, Ore. — As much of our daily life comes to a halt, the need for food does not. “When schools shut down and many people are laid off and can’t go to work, food is going to become a greater need,” said Oregon Food Bank CEO Susannah Morgan.

For now, most food options consist of pick-up and delivery at either restaurants or grocery stores. 

“Food is available,” said Morgan, referring to the 4 million pounds at the food bank’s 100,000-square-foot warehouse in Northeast Portland. The Oregon Food Bank also has over 1,400 partner pantries and food assistance sites across the state and southwest Washington—most of which remain open.

“Our best estimate is that the request for food assistance has increased 20 to 30 percent in the last week.” It’s a number that is sure to rise with growing unemployment numbers. Morgan, in her 24th year as a "food banker," is calling on others to give financially and put any food drive efforts back on the shelf for now.

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“We are discouraging food drives right now because the food has been touched many times before it gets here. We need to quarantine it and then we need volunteers who are in short supply to handle it," she said. "What we’re encouraging instead are financial donations which we can take straight to a farmer, or an orchardist, or a manufacturer and get food in cases and boxes for distribution.”

No stranger to disaster response, Morgan deployed to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. in 2005. 

“What’s really unusual about this situation is that the disaster is ongoing," she said, "and it’s affecting every single one of us.

“We have the opportunity to be our best selves or our worst selves. We are seeing much, much more of the best selves in folks now and I encourage people to just reach inside and find that in themselves.”

KGW is proud to partner with the Oregon Food Bank for the 17th annual "KGW Great Food Drive." You can donate here.