Food Security Coalition

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

- World Food Summit, 1996

The primary goals of the coalition are to reduce hunger and strengthen the local food system in the Columbia River Gorge. The outcomes of this initiative will include a comprehensive, regional response to local food access, farm, and nutrition issues.

What is it?

A diverse set of stakeholders working to advance a common agenda: More healthy local food for all



1 in 3 people are hungry. Over 98% of food consumed in the Gorge is imported. We need a resilient, inclusive food system.

How did it come about?

The group of 30+ stakeholders was initially convened by the Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon in April 2015. The Oregon Food Bank then convened a second meeting to identify some general needs, goals, and objectives for the region.


Gorge Grown Food Network was identified by the group as the agency best-positioned to lead the nascent effort. A Steering Committee formed to define next steps in early 2016 with representatives from the health care sector, Oregon Food Bank, Columbia Gorge Health Council and Gorge Grown. We applied for professional facilitation from Oregon Solutions (a program in the National Policy Consensus Center that facilitates collaborative solutions to community issues). Governor Kate Brown approved the project and the kick-off event was in May 2016.


The Oregon Solutions community-strategic planning process took 6 months and resulted in a Declaration of Cooperation: an agreement signed by each participant outlining the roles and resources committed by each partner.

Current Status

There are currently two work groups focused on creating a complete inventory of food system infrastructure and services in the five-county region. The Food Infrastructure work group is focused on inventorying and mapping cold storage resources, processing facilities, farmland, and distribution routes.  The Direct Service and Engagement work group is doing the same for gleaning groups, grocery stores, food pantries, and community meals. Both groups will engage new partners and community members as they work to fill identified gaps in services and infrastructure, particularly in the most food insecure regions of the Gorge.

The full Coalition meets quarterly to discuss progress and current issues, share ideas and move their commitments to reducing food insecurity in the region forward. 

Food Security Coalition in the News:

Food Security Coalition Starts Work, Hood River News

Community Organizations Join Forces to Reduce Hunger in the Gorge, Hood River News

Interview of Mark Thomas, Oregon Solutions co-convener, on the Mid-Columbia Today Show

Group Addresses Hunger, The Dalles Chronicle

Initial Victories:

  • Collaboration between tribal members, the Department of Human Services and the Oregon Food Bank led to the beginning of monthly deliveries of produce and food to Celilo Village.
  • Orchard View Farms and Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital split the cost of a $1,000 freezer for a Cascade Locks site providing meals to people experiencing hunger.
  • Gorge Grown Food Network organized farmers and gleaners to donate hundreds of pounds of produce regularly to the Cascade Locks Food Banks.
  • Co-convener Ken Bailey and Orchard View Farms donated 14,000 pounds of cherries per week to the Oregon Food Bank and other food distributors
  • North Wasco County School District, with the help of the Oregon Food Bank, is exploring the possibility of creating a food pantry in Wahtonka Community School
  • The Oregon Food Bank will soon host an informational seminar about school pantries for other schools and districts who are interested in the region.
  • Oregon Food Bank hosted a listening session in Cascade Locks to learn more from the community about food access in the area
  • A number of communities in the area are developing new summer meals programs, backpack programs and community meals
  • The Dalles is now funding the Power of Produce program for its Farmers Market, which provides tokens to children to purchase produce at the market
  • A Food Security Coalition volunteer is organizing a restaurant-owners working group to explore restaurants’ potential to address food insecurity in their communities and employees
  • Nutrition educators throughout the Gorge have begun meeting to increase coordination and communication, and have begun developing a Food Hero training for food bank outreach, WIC tours, and SNAP Education tours
  • OSU Extension held its first meeting of community garden managers in the Gorge. Over 35 people attended, generating great momentum and grant-writing
  • A new Veggie Rx program is being launched in Sherman County to improve food security and access to fresh vegetables in the most rural part of the Gorge
  • Spirit of Grace Garden, a volunteer-based food production garden that grows over 2,000 lbs of produce for the FISH Food Bank annually, has reached out to the Coalition network for votes in competitive grant process which would help support the garden’s work.

Solving hunger in our region would be an impossible task for any one organization to take up alone. But I believe that we can and will address hunger in the Gorge in powerful ways by aligning our organizational will and resources. Between us, and through really listening to the people experiencing the need, we have the resources, creativity and trust to make the Columbia Gorge a place where hunger is not part of the experience of poverty.

—Mark Thomas, Providence Hospital

Partner Agencies and Organizations:

  • Area Agency on Aging
  • Azure Standard
  • Columbia Gorge Health Council
  • Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
  • Community Enrichment for Klickitat & Skamania County
  • Community Harvest Co-op
  • DHS Self-Sufficiency Program
  • FISH Food Bank
  • FISH and Spirit of Grace Community Garden
  • Fresh Start Culinary Arts Program
  • Gorge Grown Food Network
  • Gorge Rural Farmers Market Network
  • Hood River County Health Department
  • Klickitat County Health Department
  • Klickitat County Senior Services
  • Mid-Columbia Medical Center and Clinics
  • North Central Public Health District
  • North Wasco County School District

  • One Community Health
  • Orchard View Cherries, Inc.
  • Oregon Child Development Coalition
  • Oregon Department of Human Services
  • Oregon Food Bank
  • OSU Extension Service
  • PacificSource
  • Port of The Dalles
  • Providence Health and Services- Hood River
  • Rockford Grange
  • Skamania County Senior Services
  • Skyline Hospital
  • Small i Farm
  • Spirit of Grace Church Volunteer Garden
  • The Next Door, Inc.
  • Washington Gorge Action Programs
  • Washington State University Extension Services
  • White Salmon Gleaners
  • Zion Lutheran Church

For more information contact
This program is funded by The Oregon Community Foundation and Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital and The Collins Foundation.