December 20, 2019 – Angelica Cortes strongly believes in the connection between community power and access to nutritious foods.

“Access to healthy food is very important,” said Angelica during a recent speech. “Without it, a person cannot actively participate in their child’s school community. There is little time or energy to play with one’s children or take them to the park. The lack of healthy food can destroy relationships as a result of having to work in excess.”

Thought she doesn’t see herself as a born leader, Angelica has emerged as a force in her community — an organizer and volunteer whose gardens nurture fruit, vegetables and community leadership. In October, Oregon Food Bank recognized Angelica as our 2019 Hunger Hero at the annual Harvest Dinner gala.

“It happened because when I moved to Portland, my husband and I lived through a difficult economic situation,” said Angelica. We were not making enough money to have enough food at home. There were families that told me I should visit the food banks and the school pantry so I went and I started looking and it made me realize that I was not the only one. I saw that there were many more families with more needs than my own. So I started getting involved, volunteering at school, in my neighborhood and that’s when I was inspired to do community service, to help others. Because it is sad to come home and not have enough food for your family.”

Angelica’s dedication to community service has transformed her life and inspired countless friends and neighbors along the way.

“When you cultivate your vegetables you eat healthier, you manage stress. You exercise in your garden. For me, that keeps me healthy, motivated and I can see the motivation it gives others in my community.”

Learn more and get involved in Oregon Food Bank’s community garden initiatives.