The ideal world for me is where no one is hungry. We start by educating children. We make them plant a tree and make it work until it reaches the sky. I imagine children at school planting their little plants. Where we teach them how to sow because that way kids will invite their parents to sow their own plants, their own seeds and have their own crops at home. That is my dream, and it starts with education, both for children and later for parents. This is how I imagine a world, everyone in their garden harvesting their essential things.
We come from countries where these things are not relevant. Sometimes when we get to this country, even if we are adults, we can't vote. Many of those who vote are young people. They are the future. It is important that parents educate their children and let them know the importance of registering, because the future depends on it."
Celebrating National Latine/Hispanic Heritage Month
Each year, the United States observes and celebrates Latine/Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15 in honor of the histories, cultures and contributions of Hispanic, Latine and Indigenous (sometimes identified as Latino/a/@/x) people in the United States. 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 (related to Spain, the Spanish language or Hispanidad) 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 United States, Hispanic and Latine are often thought of and categorized as a single group, further perpetuating erasure of such diverse peoples, cultures, traditions and experiences. This is also and especially true for Indigenous people who do not self-identify as Hispanic or Latine but are forcibly categorized as these labels by settlers. At Oregon Food Bank, we recognize that, if anything, the commonality that these communities share is United States and Western occupation over their lands and people, causing long-lasting effects from disproportionate rates of hunger, poverty and forced migration.
Disproportionate Hunger and Poverty in Latine Communities:
A survey conducted by Pew Research found that 58 percent of undocumented Latine individuals say they or someone in their household has experienced unemployment or wage loss since February 2020 compared to 45 percent of naturalized U.S. citizen immigrants. Facing compounding adversities, Latine individuals in the United States also face inordinate exposure to and illness from COVID-19. Often working in essential, front-line positions, research shows that a majority (71 percent) cannot work from home. Immigrants and People of Color – Latine folks in particular – have borne the brunt of this health crisis, facing disproportionate health and economic impacts as a result.
Poverty worsens and is more pervasive for Latine individuals with intersecting identities. One in 2 single Latine moms lives in poverty. Latine women’s median wages in the United States are $30,551 per year, compared to the median wage of $57,005 for White, non-Hispanic men. And almost half of Latine transgender adults are living in poverty.
These alarming disparities and our lived experiences tell us that to truly end hunger, we must address its root causes, including the systemic racism, sexism and xenophobia that drive hunger in our communities.
From the Community: Celebrating Latine Leadership in Oregon:
Those most affected by an issue possess invaluable insights and solutions. Hear from Latine community leaders working to end hunger and its root causes in their communities and click to read their stories:
I come from a family and a community where the only way we were able to get by was when we worked together, when we worked collaboratively towards common goals. The only way that we could advance was together. That has always been my main motivator. I have opportunities afforded to me because of the sacrifices my parents make, the sacrifices that millions of others make every single day.
Gonzalo Garcia Reyes
It’s really important to grow and to share culturally specific produce for me because I view it as a way of healing. It's healing for me to be able to grow foods that are culturally significant for me, my grandparents and my family. It’s great to be able to grow the things that my family grew and to build that relationship with those plants. It’s also healing for a lot of folks who are also immigrants, who have left Mexico and other places, for me to be able to grow this food and to share it with them, to bring them a little piece of their home and to give them some joy.
Yoana Molina Marcial
I realized that there were barriers, so a solution must be found. I can't just sit down and pity myself and say well, it is whatever, right? On the contrary — our legacy comes from warriors. We are Guerreras Latinas not because we are strong or invincible, but because we have been forced to become warriors. We are forced to cross the border. We are forced to work two or three jobs. And we are forced to decide whether to grow professionally or work to keep bringing food to our families' tables, having a roof over our heads and covering all of our basic needs. We, the Latina women are strong and I recognize that any woman is strong and can achieve a lot by herself, but I’m convinced that together with other womens, we are invincibles. I mean nobody can stop us.
I think that we leaders come to the places where they (Oregon Food Bank) can't go, to those communities they can't reach. We need them, but they also need us because they might not be able to come to those most marginalized communities. So that is important. That we reciprocally need help from them and they need help from us. We have the hands, they have the resources. We have the heart, they have the resources. So everything is connected.
When we started this, it was an idea to cover a need at that time. But there was a lot of need and a lot of fear in the community. There were people who practically wouldn't dare ask for food anywhere because there had been mention of the public charge rule. So, since we had that relationship with the community, we decided to do it [start food distributions]. And so we did one, and then we did another and then another until we made it happen and decided to continue and keep going.
Hispanic (Latine) Heritage Month Events & Opportunities to Get Involved:
Founded in 2007, the Portland Latin American Film Festival (PDXLAFF) showcases Latin American culture through feature films, documentaries and short films. The festival is held each October at the historic Hollywood Theatre.