Everybody has the right to food, whatever their immigration status. Food is essential; it’s not something ‘extra’ that I need to be successful. No, everybody needs access to food.
Meet Eman Abbas. Eman is a community leader, an advocate, an immigrant, a mother and a proud supporter of Food for All Oregonians.
“Food is one of the essentials that everybody needs. It does not matter where you are from or which community [you’re part of]. As a mother, if I cannot support my kids with food, they cannot go to school, do their jobs or live their life. It's something essential. And if they don't have it, it'll be a barrier for them to be successful. This is why I support the Food for All campaign, because it will make sure that everybody has access to food that they eat, they want, and they know.”
Like so many immigrants, Eman faced significant barriers as she worked to access essential resources, including food assistance. Eman’s fluency in English helped her to navigate the system, though not without difficulty — and she saw how others in her community struggled or were effectively excluded from existing supports because of language barriers. So Eman started a Facebook group to share available resources in the community — food distributions, state and local programs, and other nonprofit services. She translated each one into Arabic so everyone in her community could more easily access information.
And Eman’s community advocacy didn’t stop there! She is now the secretary of ACCESS Oregon, a board member of Muslim Education Trust, and a Food Systems Ambassador with Oregon Food Bank. Eman also runs food distributions that provide culturally-familiar and halal foods for Muslim families.
Through her work in the community and her own lived experiences, Eman has deep knowledge of the systemic barriers that drive hunger and poverty in immigrant communities. And too many people are excluded from the programs and resources that are effective in addressing these challenges. “Put yourself in their place,” she urges. “If you don't know how to read English or how to navigate the system, or you don't have the transportation — you don't have the support.”
Right now, 62,000 Oregonians are excluded from food assistance and other vital programs simply because of where they were born. That’s why Eman supports Food for All Oregonians — because food is a human right for everyone.
“Everybody has the right to food, whatever their immigration status. Food is essential; it’s not something ‘extra’ that I need to be successful. No, everybody needs access to food,” Eman says. “Oregon has the resources. And we can help everybody. So why not help everybody? Why not give everybody access to the resources we already have?”