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Oregonians and Hunger: An AARP Opportunity to Learn

by Elaine Friesen-Strang


As the afternoon starts to fade, many of us begin to mull over our daily dilemma: what to make for dinner. Are there leftovers from the night before?  What do we have in the frig?  Should we go to the store and let inspiration strike or maybe pick up Thai?  It's easy to take for granted our abundance of options, yet it's a luxury of choice a surprising number of Oregonians don't have.

In 2011, the AARP Foundation released a study concerning food security in America.  The survey showed that Oregon was one of the top 10 states for hunger among adults 50 years of age and older.  For those age 50-59, Oregon was in the top five.  At the time, our state also ranked as one of the hungriest for children.  In a region known for food production, the statistics were startling.  The study went on to reveal why older Oregonians were particularly vulnerable; following the recession, many older adults struggled to get back into the work force or faced big losses in retirement savings.  They may have once considered themselves middle class, but the economy, health issues, and work force challenges changed that.

As a result of the study, AARP Oregon convened stakeholders in aging and anti-hunger advocacy groups.  Bandana Shrestha, Community Engagement Director, worked with Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon to form the Older Oregonians Hunger Coalition in 2012 to address the issue and create solutions. She explains, "Hunger is not an issue that will be solved by one group or organization.  It requires collective attention and the efforts of many organizations and people."

Along with our partnering agencies, AARP is sponsoring a special Lunch and Learn opportunity on April 14 at Providence Portland Medical Center to learn more about food insecurity and what can be done to solve it. You are invited to a special screening of the award winning HBO documentary, American Winter, filmed over the course of one winter in Portland. It follows eight families in different neighborhoods and backgrounds. They were once financially stable, but for varying reasons, in 2011 they found themselves struggling, left out of the economic recovery.  The Washington Post called the movie "wrenching."  Greg Kaufman from The Nation wrote, "Finally, a movie has arrived that shows the precariousness of the US economy for the majority of Americans, refusing to distinguish between a deserving and non-deserving poor".

Following the movie, 211Info, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, and other advocates will discuss issues of poverty and hunger in our state.  Ms. Shrestha points out, "We know access to nutritious food means better health outcomes regardless of age.  If we were able to end 50+ and senior hunger tomorrow, we would be looking at healthier people with more time and wherewithal to contribute positively to society."  Everyone should be able to open their cupboards to find options for dinner. Help us make that happen.

Tuesday, April 14, 11:30am to 1:30pm.  Doors open at 11:00 for check-in and refreshments.  Portland Providence Medical Center, Cancer Center Amphitheater  4805 NE Glisan St.

This special Lunch and Learn is a free event, but registration is required.

To register, go to


Read more about upcoming events here.



Welcome to Livable Oregon.

What makes a community livable? What do neighborhoods need to help people of all ages live active, engaged lives?  Livable Oregon  explores the features of age-friendly communities, the people who help create them, and what we can do to make our neighborhoods in Oregon a great place for everyone.

This blog takes its lead from the  AARP Livable Communities Initiative  which seeks to improve the quality of life for older adults by promoting the development of safe, accessible, and vibrant environments. AARP Livable Communities  policies  address issues such as land use, housing, and transportation which are vital to developing communities that facilitate aging in place.

 About our lead blogger:

My name is Elaine Friesen-StrangI understand the need for lifelong, livable communities as a mother who raised two children, a daughter who helped care for her father, a professional guardian who served adults with developmental disabilities, and a woman who is experiencing the mixed blessings of aging.  Volunteering for AARP empowers me to help make my neighborhood and city a more livable, sustainable place for people of all ages.



About AARP States
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