CORVALLIS - A new study on food prices and access in Lane County indicates that grocery prices are highest in some rural, lower-income areas of the state where people are least able to afford them and routinely have to spend a far higher portion of their income on food.
The research may help explain, at least in part, why 5.8 percent of the population of Oregon is hungry - a rate that is the highest in the United States and nearly twice the national average of 3 percent.
But the study, which was done by geographers at Oregon State University, found a complex relationship between food prices, transportation constraints and other issues, and identified no simple solutions that could address the unusually high level of hunger in the state.
"There is plenty of food in Oregon, but the most healthy, fresh foods at the lowest prices are not always available to people in rural or low-income areas," said Dianna Smith, who conducted this research as part of her graduate thesis at OSU. "We still have a lot to learn before we can reduce the level of hunger in this state, which actually has only a moderate level of poverty."
The research looked at food availability, prices, transportation and other factors in two large urban areas and two smaller towns in Lane County - Eugene and Springfield in the Willamette Valley, Oakridge in the Oregon Cascade Range, and Florence on the Oregon coast.
Among the observations of the report, some of which were findings compiled from other studies:
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Dianna Smith, 612-874-3214