The Rise of State Agency/NGO Collaboration Against Food Insecurity in West Coast States

Presented by Mark Edwards
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Oregon State University
On Monday, February 25th, 2008 at the Evans School of Public Affairs


Food insecurity rates differ across American states and change over time for reasons that are poorly understood. West coast states have been both notorious for high rates of very low food security, but also commended for dramatic improvement in this indicator of family distress. Changes in food insecurity across states are not obviously related to state economic trends but they could be influenced by the ways states implement federal policies for assisting vulnerable populations. State efforts to reduce food insecurity are not only conducted by government actors, but also non-governmental non-profit organizations.

This study describes changes in food insecurity rates in 5 western states and considers whether these changes may be related to increases in collaboration between government agencies and NGOs. The analysis highlights how the policy environment of changing federal programs have made it more possible for NGOs and state agencies to work more closely with each other, perhaps to greater effect. The findings suggest an unintended consequence of the new federalism approach to social programs, making it possible in some circumstances for NGO leaders to play unique roles in state agencies as experts, consultants and co-workers.

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