Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Does Food Assistance Work?

2. Why Do People Need Food Assistance?

3. How Many People Are Serviced?

1. How Does Food Assistance Work?

You are eligible if your family is currently participating in SNAP (Food Stamp Program), TANF, SSDI/SSI, LIEAP,  WIC, Free or Reduced School Lunch Program or if your income is equal to or below:

Household Size Monthly Income $ Annual Income $
1 1,860 22,311
2 2,504 30,044
3 3,149 37,777
4 3,793 45,510
5 4,437 53,243
6 5,082 60,976
7 5,726 68,709
8* 6,371 76,442

* For each additional member, add $645 per month.  Commodity foods are for home consumption only and are not to be sold, traded, bartered or exchanged for services.

2. Why Do People Need Food Assistance?

Reasons for needing food assistance vary. Here are the most common:

  • Some people are working at low paying jobs, going from welfare to work, are involved in job training, or going to school to better themselves and become self-reliant.
  • Seniors on fixed incomes of $400-600 per month. When they can get $100 worth of groceries each month, they have more money to purchase their medications and pay those higher winter utility bills.
  • Mentally or physically disabled people living on fixed incomes of $350-600 per month.
  • Individuals who have suffered a temporary crisis such as illness or injury. Some are unemployed, temporarily unemployed or facing a financial crisis.
  • Terminally ill people and cancer treatment patients access the food bank. With our help, those suffering from a life-altering illness can concentrate on their quality of life, themselves and their loved ones—not about choosing between paying for their medical prescriptions, living expenses and food.
  • Hungry children are more susceptible to illnesses and behavior problems.
  • Seniors have to choose between medication and food.
  • We distribute over 12 tons of food a week throughout the county.
  • Columbia County’s unemployment rate continues to be well above the state rate.
  • We are seeing more employed individuals as many new jobs are either part-time and/or slightly above minimum wage.
  • In 2019, 1 in 10 people in Columbia County ate a meal prepared from an emergency food box.  All who qualify for emergency assistance are within 185% of the federal poverty level.
  • Included in this number were:
    • children under the age of 18
    • people who are vulnerable, including seniors and the disabled
    • working people whose income is not sufficient to cover the basic necessities
    • the unemployed

3.  How Many People Are Serviced?


Emergency Food Pantry Emergency Food Boxes Served
People Served
(duplicated #)
HELP (St. Helens)  5,946 15,366
St. VINCENT (Scappoose) 1,026 2,740
HOPE OF RAINIER (Rainier) 1,777 5,324
TURNING POINT (Clatskanie) 1,210 3,680
VERNONIA (Vernonia) 1,755 4,476
Totals 11,714 32,312