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Community-Led Action to End Hunger

Oregon Food Bank is proud to anchor one of the largest food assistance networks in the country, made up of 21 regional food banks and more than 1,400 pantries, markets and meal sites. Even with this scale, we know we can’t end hunger for good through emergency food assistance alone. We need true, systemic change to address hunger at its roots.

That's why we announced the launch of our statewide Policy Leadership Council, a new governing body that places public policy and grassroots advocacy decisions in the hands of community members. The Council is made up entirely of community leaders who also have lived experience of food insecurity, systemic racism, gender oppression and other root causes of hunger. Collectively, their leadership advances Oregon Food Bank’s 10-year vision and belief that the strongest solutions to food insecurity come from community expertise.

Meet the Council

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Representing urban, rural and suburban communities from Astoria to Umatilla, Eugene to Grande Ronde, Policy Leadership Council members bring an incredible depth of local leadership and experience to the food bank’s mission to end hunger and its root causes. Together, they’ll determine Oregon Food Bank's grassroots advocacy agenda by identifying and addressing the policies and systems that drive hunger and poverty in our communities. We’re excited to introduce two of our amazing Council members today: Andrea Gonzalez and Yaneli Hernandez-Tapia.

Andrea Gonzalez
she/her/ella | Astoria

Andrea completed her master’s degree in social work in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, through all of the social, economic and technical challenges that came with it. Andrea partnered with the Tillamook County Food Bank to create culturally-specific food services for Latinx communities in the area. Andrea spends a lot of time working and organizing with Latinx communities in Clatsop County and Tillamook County. Andrea is passionate about providing equitable access to resources in her community so people can cultivate their own food. Andrea’s vision for a hunger-free community is that everyone has access to resources so they can provide their own solutions.

The system isn’t made for us; it’s made to exploit us as People of Color. How do we engage in the system, but also address the inequity in the system? It’s important to assess what causes the metaphorical fires for families and think bigger-scale — like policy change — in order to meet the needs of the community, especially those who have been marginalized for so long.

Yaneli Hernandez-Tapia
she/her/hers | Salem

Yaneli is a youth environmentalist, a farmer and a racial-justice activist. Yaneli grew up in Salem, Oregon, and learned to grow food at a young age while learning about food insecurity rates in her community. Working at the local nonprofit Youth Farm in Salem, Yaneli saw what the food system could be like. She cultivated a passion for creating access to local, fresh, nutritious food grown right in the community, especially for underrepresented people. Yaneli graduated from the University of Oregon in the middle of the pandemic. While there, she worked as an LGBTQ ally coordinator, a multicultural services coordinator and a co-educator to her peers on issues of gardening and food justice. Yaneli connected peers to resources in the community, SNAP benefits information and food services they could access. She learned that college students face some of the highest rates of hunger and food insecurity among any population, but it isn’t as talked about. Currently, Yaneli is working seasonally for a prescription CSA program at the same Youth Farm.

Enacting a Policy Leadership Council that’s not only Black, Indigenous and other people of color — but people from all walks of life — that have experienced some sort of oppression is so important. It brings our unique lenses into enacting policy changes that have an impact at the statewide or local levels.

This is an exciting time for Oregon Food Bank’s advocacy efforts and the broader movement to end hunger in Oregon and Southwest Washington. We hope you’ll get involved today!

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