We, like many of you, have been reflecting on what the recent election results mean for our work to end hunger in Oregon.
We're facing a litany of concerns when it comes to the future of Oregon's food security: proposed cuts to SNAP, child nutrition programs and other basic assistance, a rise in policies that disproportionately hurt people of color and women and a feeling of disenfranchisement among people living in poverty that exists across many identities and communities.
Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon has a plan of action and together, we can ensure that our lawmakers hear us when we say everyone has the right to be free from hunger. We are committed to working together for this principle and need your support now more than ever.
Many people are asking what they can do to help. Here are two things we need from you right now:
What we know: Since our founding, we have worked tirelessly to win public policy changes to lift people out of poverty and to connect people with nutrition programs that help communities and families thrive. Over the next few months, we will track both threats and opportunities for programs that build a brighter future for Oregonians, keeping you informed along the way. We will do this both at a state and a federal level. We’ll continue to organize a powerful coalition of people with lived-experience of hunger, advocates, businesses and people of conscience like you—to stand up for the fundamental value that all persons have the right to be free from hunger.
What you can do: As a small nonprofit we rely on donations to continue our advocacy efforts. Your gift makes a huge difference. You can also suggest friends and family join you in donating—especially as you reconnect during the holidays.
What we know: There are already whispers out of Congress about weakening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—our nation’s first line of defense against hunger. Why does this matter? SNAP has helped half of us at some point in our lives, and currently serves over 700,000 Oregonians a month. The extra help with buying groceries lifts 118,000 Oregonians out of poverty, including 54,000 children. Kids who live in low-income families are more likely to graduate high school if they participate in SNAP and it shields against chronic diseases like diabetes.
We anticipate there will be efforts to weaken SNAP, such as limiting SNAP’s ability to respond to an economic downturn by transforming it into a “block grant.” This would limit Oregon’s flexibility to respond to increased need during hard times, and would have been catastrophic during the last recession.
What you can do: Speak up! We’ll be telling our elected officials how important SNAP and other anti-hunger programs are, but your voice is powerful. Never written to your Senator before? Now is the time. Spent your life speaking out on issues you care about? Now is the time.
Hunger impacts us all, and together we can hold our leaders accountable as they develop policies to address hunger and poverty.
Hunger has many root causes, and we will continue to address them head on. Income inequality puts some of us at far higher risk. Systemic racism is a root cause of hunger for people of color. Gender discrimination and misogyny are root causes of hunger for women and LGBTQ+ persons. Shifting economic and employment trends are a root cause of disproportionately high rates of hunger for rural Oregonians. Prejudice and stigma make it hard for many people to ask for and get the help they need.
We’ll continue to speak out against inequities, listen to those impacted by hunger and work to address the root causes of hunger and poverty. We may be a nation divided in the way we vote, but hunger is something we all agree needs to end. We are all in this together.
What gives us hope is that America has consistently rejected efforts to weaken effective nutrition assistance like SNAP and school meals in the past. We rejected them because we organized and spoke out. As a nation rejected them because when it comes to food—our most basic human need—we raised our voices and said that we are all better off when people facing hard times have enough to eat.
We need one another. And we are so thankful your support.
Executive Director, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon