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Hunger on the ballot: What George Carrillo stands for

The priorities of our elected officials can make a major difference in the day-to-day lives of Oregon families and communities. Below they answer our questions and share their vision to end hunger and its root causes.

The Governor's responsibility to ensuring food access

Question 1

More than a million Oregonians, from every single county in the state, accessed food assistance through the Oregon Food Bank Network in 2021. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 702,000 Oregonians have participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP, sometimes referred to as “food stamps”). What are the responsibilities of the Governor to ensure that our communities have consistent access to nutritious, culturally-appropriate food?

Answer

The SNAP program has absolutely helped thousands of Oregonians receive assistance in accessing food that is nutritious and culturally appropriate. I believe it is the Governor’s responsibility to ensure that all Oregonians that qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP) be informed of their eligibility status and assisted in applying for benefits, should they choose to pursue them. In order for this to work, it will be necessary to address and correct all state programs backlogs to have streamlined business processes with fair and equitable practices. Additionally, as the price of nutritious food fluctuates, the SNAP program benefits must reflect and support the true cost of healthy food.

The current lack of consistent access to food is a symptom of poverty and systemic inequities, such as lack of access to stable housing, livable wage, education, health, resources, and opportunities. It is the Governor’s responsibility to understand how these systemic inequities contribute to current social problems, such as food insecurity. The Governor should evaluate current federal revenues to see how they can be strengthened and equitably used, and advance community-driven policies that work towards preventing food insecurity.

Systemic racism and hunger

Question 2

Community members who are Black, Indigenous or People of Color face significantly higher rates of poverty and food insecurity than White Oregonians.

  1. What role, if any, do you believe systemic racism plays in causing hunger?

  2. What policies and programs would you support to reduce poverty and food insecurity in these communities?

Answer

  1. Systemic racism limits the ability of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) to access resources, opportunities, and privileges. I believe that systemic racism plays a contributing role in causing hunger as it’s embedded in policies, laws, and practices throughout state programs. For example, it is not uncommon for bilingual/multilingual applicants of the SNAP program to have a longer turnaround towards receiving benefits due to the limited amount of bilingual/multilingual staff in the Oregon Department of Human Services. We know this true because of the large backlog of SNAP applicants.

    Systemic racism marginalizes BIPOC communities by limiting access to education or career advancement for obtaining a livable wage to provide them with consistent food security. Many times we see BIPOC communities not being eligible for SNAP or other state benefits due to eligibility parameters that examine household members' income. A family may just be over the limit yet still be in poverty and lack access to food security.
  2. The BIPOC community experiences systemic racism at all levels and systems - education, housing, criminal justice, health, and government agencies. In order to reduce poverty and food insecurity, it is vital to examine the ways in which our systems limit their access to resources and opportunities.

    I believe it is important to understand the specific needs of each community as each community has different experiences with state programs and policies. I believe in providing the community a seat at the table This will be done by creating paid oversight committees to work with departments within our government to establish networks throughout the state, to coordinate efforts to engage communities on program implementation and solutions to the current systems. We can use this collaboration to understand where people fall in the cracks of current support systems, boost the current use of resources, and work in a collaborative approach to implement strategies.
Essential food workers and food insecurity

Question 3

From the fields to the grocery store, our food industry is anchored by essential workers who are immigrants. Yet the workers who keep food on our tables are among the lowest paid in Oregon. As governor, what would you do to ensure that the people who grow, process and serve our food do not experience food insecurity themselves?

Answer

Our immigrant population does not make a livable wage. I believe we must provide all workers with at least a $16 minimum wage, I will protect their entitlement to overtime pay, ensure there are protections for collective bargaining, workers’ rights, workplace safety, and fair scheduling no matter one’s documented status. I support providing essential worker pay for all low wage workers. Providing our workforce with the aforementioned items is an initial step in the right direction.

Food insecurity in rural, urban and suburban communities

Question 4

From Ontario, to Portland, to Tillamook, rates of poverty and food insecurity are relatively similar. As governor, how would you design solutions to poverty and hunger across rural, urban and suburban communities?

Answer

While all across the state there are similar rates of poverty and food insecurity, I believe it is important to understand the specific needs of each community. I do not hold the answer, I believe community members are the experts on the problems they face. I will create paid oversight committees to work with departments within our government. The oversight committees will report to the governor. These oversight committees will establish networks throughout the state to coordinate efforts to engage communities on program implementation and solutions to the current systems. Agencies will implement strategies that the oversight committee brings forward and will work in a collaborative approach to discuss desired outcomes. Oversight committees will be tasked to engage community members from populations directly impacted by decisions.

Barriers to BIPOC farming

Question 5

Of the state’s 67,595 farm producers, only 64 were Black in 2017. Black, Indigenous and People of Color have long experienced barriers in access to land, infrastructure and markets to support farming — negatively impacting both food production and economic development in communities.

  1. Does the governor have any responsibilities to remove barriers to farming for Oregonians who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color?

  2. If yes, what policies and programs would you support?

Answer

  1. Yes, there are disproportionate barriers to BIPOC Oregonians. Those barriers include historical policies and practices, such as Oregon's Black exclusion laws and the relocation of Native American tribes, that dispossessed people of their land.
  2. BIPOC farmers were denied USDA loans at higher rates than other groups in 2020. I will advocate for addressing the loan bias and bias that federal grants should not be structured on size or production. I believe in improving access to loans for micro-farming, or farms less than 150 acres. I believe in supporting community-supported agriculture programs and regenerative agriculture programs. I also support ongoing collaboration between the Oregon Department of Agriculture and our state’s nine federally-recognized Tribes to increase access and use of programs and services by Indigenous producers and Tribes. I believe we should review our state’s policies that dispossessed the Indigenous People of Oregon of their land to seek ways to return the stolen land.
Affordable housing

Question 6

Oregon faces a crisis of affordable housing. People who request food assistance consistently cite the cost of housing as a primary reason for seeking help — and renters are more than six times more likely to experience hunger than homeowners. As governor, what will you do to move us toward an Oregon in which everyone has safe, affordable and healthy housing?

Answer

I will invest in affordable housing for low-income renters by limiting landlords to charge no more than 30% of the total household income for low-income individuals. I believe we should reinvest our Section 8 Housing funds and other program funds to allow a tax break for landlords who continue to provide low-income housing. I will reinforce the current state “just cause” requirement for convictions and ensure the right to court-appointed counsel in housing disputes.

I will work towards ending gentrification and exclusionary zoning because this keeps affordable housing out of neighborhoods through land use and building code requirements and raises the price of rent, homes, and property values.

For renters who experience houselessness, I will create new facilities throughout the state that provides on-site services to address the needs of our houseless community and assist with the shift in becoming self-sufficient. This includes expanding the concept of shelters by addressing the social determinants of health of an individual or family who is willing to engage.

The state should provide funding to county and city governments to collaborate with state government agencies to streamline processes and create measurable goals that will produce maximum outcomes for the community.

Caregivers and food insecurity

Question 7

The work of caring for one another is disproportionately shouldered by women. While the labor of caring for children, the elderly and people with disabilities is often unpaid, professions of childcare and home healthcare are among the lowest paid in Oregon. Single mothers and caregivers are over three times more likely to experience hunger than the general population. As governor, what will you do to ensure that the people providing care in our communities do not experience food insecurity?

Answer

I believe child care and home health care workers are undervalued and underpaid. This care work is important for household and economic stability. I believe we should increase wages for all professions of childcare and home healthcare to livable standards. I will support bills such as House Bill 4005 that address the unfair disparity in payments to providers servicing low-income families, such as those who receive Employment Related Day Care subsidies. I will also support packages brought forward, like the 2022 Child Care Investment Act, that are designed to help increase the availability of care by assisting providers to stay open, expand, and help new providers launch their businesses.

Hear from each candidate

Read everything the candidates had to say on anti-hunger policies by clicking on their photo below.

* Questions were sent to candidates who will appear on the primary ballot. We will be sending questions to other independent candidates who qualify for the ballot in the November general election and provide their full answers at that time.

Michael Cross

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