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Hunger on the ballot: What Nick Hess 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 is responsible for making sure people in need have access to food.

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. I believe that the role systemic racism plays in hunger stems from lack of opportunity. Everyone–regardless of race–should have equal opportunities to live, to thrive, to define their own successes, and to have every opportunity to reach their idea of success.
  2. I support programs like SNAP and other local nonprofits that help feed and shelter our community. There are a lot of great state-funded and community programs that provide support in many areas such as housing, rental assistance, and food insecurity. However, many people in need do not know they exist or know how to access these programs. I advocate for better transparency through technology and online dashboards on state-run websites.
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

As governor, it is making sure there is a thriving economy in our community that not only supports these workers but allows every Oregonian to thrive. We need more trade schools and more ways for people to progress themselves into better careers. That means attracting better jobs in Oregon and job training so people can access those better jobs. We need new infrastructure and affordable housing so that we can expand our industries in Oregon.

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 believe in funding local groups that are working with those communities. That means the state must ensure proper funding to the county and city leadership for proper leadership. Counties and cities can then coordinate the flow of funds to established nonprofits that are showing results in helping alleviate poverty and food insecurity.

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. No. This is an issue for local counties. They determine what happens to the land and the cost of land. But the reality is that this affects EVERYONE that doesn’t have money or access to money. There are foreign investors and billionaires buying up our land. And even family farms can no longer stay in the family with Oregon’s high estate tax.
  2. N/A
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

Homeownership is the quickest way to build personal wealth. To build a healthy and thriving community we need more affordable housing. Oregon largely has a supply and demand problem. We do not have enough inventory and any plans to add more housing are tied up in building ordinances and restrictions.Taxes such as the CAT tax also tack on additional costs to new housing projects which then gets passed on to renters and buyers. We need a temporary pause on unnecessary regulations so that we can increase our inventory and decrease housing and rental prices.

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

These individuals are crucial to our communities. We need to ensure that there is transparency into what programs are available to help them. Whether that is helping them to find future opportunities through education in order to raise their wages or making sure the state is a good steward of their tax dollars and putting more money back into their wallets. Again, I believe in advocating for transparency through technology and making sure these programs are clear and accessible to anyone needing assistance.

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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