Skip to main content

Find food near you

Celebrating National Latine/Hispanic Heritage Month

Each year, the U.S. observes and celebrates Latine/Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15 in honor of the histories, cultures and contributions of Latine (sometimes identified as Latino/a/@/x) Americans. Additionally, September 15 holds historical significance as it marks the independence days of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile also observe their independence days on neighboring dates – September 16 and September 18. As we commemorate this month with joy-filled festivities, we remind our community to center the experiences and challenges that Hispanic (Spanish-speaking) and Latine people continue to face while maintaining hope that we can create a world where these communities are free from violence and injustice.

In the U.S., Hispanic and Latine people are often thought of and categorized as a single group, further perpetuating erasure of such diverse peoples, cultures, traditions and experiences. At Oregon Food Bank, we recognize that, if anything, the commonality that these communities share is U.S. and Western occupation over their lands and people, causing long-lasting effects from disproportionate rates of hunger, poverty and forced migration.

A survey conducted by Pew Research last year found that 58% of undocumented Latines say they or someone in their household has experienced unemployment or wage loss since February 2020 compared to 45% of naturalized U.S. citizen immigrants. Facing compounding adversities, Latines in the U.S. also face inordinate exposure to and illness from COVID-19. Often working in essential, front-line positions, research shows that a majority (71%) cannot work from home. Immigrants and People of Color – Latines in particular – have borne the brunt of this health crisis, facing disproportionate health and economic impacts as a result.

As individuals who have been indoctrinated into a White Supremacist society, our mission of uprooting hunger and its root causes cannot move forward without acknowledging how we internalize and act upon colonial teachings and practices. In the midst of our (un)learning, we must be open to a new story that decenters Whiteness and uplifts the narratives of those most impacted.

At Oregon Food Bank, Latine/Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to reflect on our history and to center joy and celebration of our many cultures and communities. To kick off the month, we asked two of our staff members to share their favorite cultural tradition. Thank you to Carlos Soriano and Nava Sherwood Barbachano for sharing your stories!

From Carlos Soriano, OFB’s beloved Statewide Network Manager

In the Dominican Republic music is everything. Is part of our tradition that dates back all the way to the 1800s. In every Dominican household you can find music playing. It's either Merengue, Bachata, Salsa, Reggaetón or Dembow. Dominicans are known for having music on while cooking, watching tv, when guests come over, doing chores, playing dominos, just about anything you can think of music will be playing. One of my favorite Dominican artists that I love to play at home is Juan Luis Guerra. Our music brings us closer to our culture and reminds us of the good times even when you don't have much.

From Nava Sherwood Barbachano, OFB’s beloved Community Philanthropy Assistant Manager - Database & System

One of my favorite Puerto Rican traditions is eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight for good luck. It's silly, chaotic and a choking hazard, but we wash them down with some coquito and we're all set for the New Year! I don't have many traditions that aren't specifically food related, because my family has spent generations 'modernizing' to fit in with the dominant culture, both in Puerto Rico and Mexico, and then here in the U.S. We have recipes and scraps of traditions passed down through family stories. It's so important to me to hold on to what I do have and use that to connect myself and my children more to our family and our heritage. Now we have whatever we can take with us and the stories we share when we gather with family. Having this knowledge is grounding; it gives a sense of identity, and a deeper understanding of ourselves and what shaped us.

Coquito Recipe:

1 can cream of coconut

1 can condensed milk*

1 can evaporated milk*

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 bottle rum

cinnamon sticks and/or ground cinnamon

Blend together all the milks and vanilla, mix in rum to your strength preference, and chill. Garnish with cinnamon to taste. Keep cold and drink within a week. (Some folks also add raisins, or other spices to taste. I like cardamom.)

* I use coconut versions of these to make it vegan.

Related posts

Community Voices

Inside Oregon Food Bank: A Conversation with Celia Ferrer

Community Voices

Olga Cherevatenko: Connecting Community for Lasting Change

Community Voices

Сила сообщества: Ольга Череватенко (RU)

Email sign-up

Stay connected

Sign up to receive emails with updates, resources and ways to get involved.