FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Patti Whitney-Wise
503-595-5501 x 302 (office)
State budget cuts would worsen hunger problem
OREGON – The Oregon Hunger Task Force is deeply concerned that proposed state budget cuts to human service programs will make Oregon’s hunger problem worse. “These cuts will harm children, seniors, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable people who are already living on the edge,” said Patti Whitney-Wise, Executive Director of the Task Force.
Oregon was ranked second in the nation (behind Mississippi and just ahead of Maine, Oklahoma, and Missouri) for a high percentage of residents who experience hunger. Households are reducing the size of meals or skipping meals entirely, sometimes going without food for whole days. “These are families who really struggle to put food on the table,” said Whitney-Wise.
The nine percent across-the-board budget cuts may seem like a fair process but will impact Oregonians with low incomes disproportionately becuase the majority of Oregon’s safety net services reside within two state agencies: the Department of Human Services and Oregon Housing and Community Services. “They will make deep cuts and low-income people will suffer as a result,” said Whitney-Wise. “As a state, we already have a large number of people who are struggling with an unemployment rate over 10 percent. And we are among the highest states for both hunger and homelessness. We cannot afford to make things worse.”
There are other options the State of Oregon could consider as it seeks to balance its budget. For example, Congress should be urged to extend stimulus funds for medical care for the poor, the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, and support for school budgets. At the state level, the Corporate tax rebate (“Kicker”) may kick-in because the projection was low--these dollars could help fill the budget hole. Oregon could also re-evaluate the tax breaks it gives away which now exceed spending in human services, education and public safety combined. Said Whitney-Wise, “we have options and we should explore all of them before balancing our budget on the backs of vulnerable Oregonians and making the hunger problem worse.”
The mission of the Task Force is to end hunger before it begins by promoting the well-being and economic security of Oregonians and eliminating the underlying causes and consequences of hunger.
More information about hunger in Oregon
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