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Hunger on the ballot: What Marc Thielman 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 Governor must have a relationship with the people that is responsive to individual needs. Meeting individual needs is the engine of equity. The responsibility is both short-term and long-term depending on need. Combating hunger must include a set of economic rules that favor small and medium-sized businesses and industries that provide good family wage jobs, as well as support private organizations like the food bank, gleaners, and other organizations that have a passion for meeting the needs of the food insecure, poor and disenfranchised. No person or family should go hungry in Oregon and the Governor has a duty to address the root causes of hunger and facilitate food security options designed to meet a diverse set of needs. Economic opportunity is paramount, as well as providing access/good information to those in need to food security programs available in their geographic area. As Oregon’s next Governor, I will fight hard to assure that no person or family goes hungry in our State.

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. The debate about the role or existence of systemic racism is a profound distraction from addressing the root causes of the hungry. The root causes of hunger do not discriminate as the data is very clear that the demographic make up of those in need includes all races, creeds, identities, genders, and cultures. Our duty is to acknowledge the needs and address the root causes by telling the truth about food insecurity, and implementing good policies designed to lift everyone out of poverty. This end requires a two-way relationship with those in need, as well as effective partnerships with organizations and charities designed to secure provision and empower those they serve to grow their economic status and overcome poverty.
  2. As mentioned, I will implement economic policies that tip the scales in favor of small and medium-sized businesses, investment, and family wage job creation. Specifically, initiatives designed to invest in communities that have been marginalized and/or disenfranchised. We have whole communities, both urban and rural that will thrive economically if the burden of government regulations, taxation, and policies of marginalization can be reversed or addressed. Achieving this will require a different kind of leadership than what we currently have. Our struggling communities need action and empowerment, not empty words and false promises. As Governor, I will generate real results as defined by an appreciable reduction in hunger and food insecurity through effective partnerships. In addition, I will increase awareness and access to resources, grants, and economic opportunities and supports via public service announcements and direct community outreach. Giving the needy the tools they need to rise out of poverty and/or food insecurity is truly work worth doing.
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

Illegal immigration is an attack on the very humanity of the people to risk much to live and work in the United States in violation of the law. This reality is why immigration must be legal for the full protection of labor laws to be applied to the hard-working people who are essential to food provision. Commonsense requires an immigration system that is legal and connects migrant workers to the full benefits and protections that the United States offers in the workplace. If we are to be a nation of laws, then undocumented workers should be discouraged and connection of migrant workers to legal status must be paramount. Legal workers are required to the same benefits as most citizens and thus are much less likely to experience food insecurity. Essential workers of legal status fair much better than their undocumented counterparts, and thus have the capacity to lobby for better wages and working conditions, as they have done successfully in the past. Farmers and immigrant workers need each other, and a rising tide raises all ships.

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

As Governor, I will make the design of solutions to poverty rates and food insecurity among the highest priority. As mentioned, the best protection against poverty and food insecurity is a family wage job. Poverty is no respecter of geography and affects urban, rural and suburban people alike. An innovative and robust economic plan that includes the revitalization, maximization and development of our deep-water seaports is necessary. Economic opportunity, job creation, and a renaissance of small and medium-sized business creation will greatly reduce the frequency of food insecurity among Oregon’s hard-working citizens.

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. The Governor must represent all Oregon citizens, and the rules of our government should be set in favor of access and opportunity for the common citizen and small/medium business. This simple step will create open doors for people of all races, creeds, and colors to pursue their dreams of land and home ownership.
  2. I will declare a small and medium sized business emergency and implement new and strategic regulatory rules that favor small and medium sized businesses to include incentives for minority owned businesses. We are all in this together and facilitating supports for BIPOC ownership of business serves to strengthen our economy and end food insecurity for more vulnerable members of our great state.
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

The lack of affordable housing rests solely at the feet of State Government Policy, specifically Urban Growth Boundary regulations that are one-sized fits all. Local Governments must be given more flexibility to prioritize strategic developments for housing that make sense for those communities. Rural counties have different needs that Urban counties and the local county/municipal governments must be set free to use commonsense and approve expansion of housing and industrial developments serve to create economic and housing security. Our current system is far too restrictive and facilitates too much governmental and regulatory inefficiency. It should not take an average of seven years to approve a 500 unit apartment complex.

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

Care givers should be compensated like any other skilled worker. Currently, caregiver wages have increased during the pandemic as the need has increased due to the economic shutdowns. Again, family wage jobs are paramount, and caregivers deserve good wages in relation to their skills. Entry wages must be increased as proficiency in caregiving is demonstrated. As a father of a disabled child, I have advocated for more compensation for our amazing caregiver, and it has been granted. This kind of advocacy is necessary if skilled caregivers are to be retained.

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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