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Fostering Equity: Centering Single Mothers and Caregivers to End Hunger

Fostering Equity: Centering Single Mothers and Caregivers to End Hunger

Oregon Food Bank is dedicated to ending hunger and its root causes. We know that the root causes of hunger are systemic injustices — including the intersections of racism, classism, sexism, settler colonialism and more — which continue the conditions that sustain hunger and poverty. Understanding this, we commit to center those who most disproportionately experience hunger across our service area — Black, Indigenous and all People of Color, immigrants and refugees, gender expansive folks (including Two-Spirit folks), and single mothers and caregivers — in ways that honor and value each other and our lived experiences.

The disproportionate rates of food insecurity faced by single mothers and caregivers in Oregon highlight the urgency of targeted support and the need for transformative change. Those most affected by an issue possess invaluable insights and solutions.

Disproportionate Rates of Food Insecurity in Oregon:

Single mothers face the highest food insecurity rates in the United States and the majority are paid below the poverty line. In Oregon, 1 in 3 single mothers lives below the poverty line. For Black, Indigenous and Latine single mothers, that figure is 1 in 2.

Oregon’s high cost of child care is one of the major barriers for single mothers struggling to make ends meet. For minimum wage workers in Oregon, child care costs on average over 50 percent of their income. Across the United States, more than 24 million children live in single-parent households, which are five times as likely to experience poverty as married and dual-income households. Yet state and federal programs that help single mothers afford food, housing and utilities are consistently targeted with funding cuts and eligibility restrictions.

At Oregon Food Bank, we center women whose experiences, labor and love are too often undervalued and invisibilized. No one should have to choose between healthcare and rent, or child care and food. We center single mothers and caregivers because they face these impossible choices every day, and we believe in a future where single mothers have their needs met with an abundance of community support.

Intersectionality — its Impact and its Power:

We know that poverty is worse and more pervasive for Black, Latine and Indigenous women, women who are disabled, and LGBTQ+ women. Many of the drivers of poverty for single mothers — such as attacks on reproductive healthcare, the gender wage gap, domestic violence, and occupational segregation into low-paying jobs — worsen for women with these intersecting identities. Narratives like the “welfare queen” stereotype, popularized in the 1970s to demonize Black women accessing the social safety net, remain pervasive today.

Race, class, sexuality and immigration status shape the everyday experiences of single mothers, and systemic discrimination perpetuates disproportionate rates of hunger for single mothers with intersecting identities. This is why it is critical that we approach hunger relief efforts with an equitable, intersectional lens.

Single Mothers in the Oregon Food Bank Community Tell Their Stories:

“I'm an immigrant single mother, and my primary motivation is to be able to give my kids and everyone's kids the best chance at life. I live and breathe that hope.” — Celia, OFB Corporate and Community Relations Manager
“As a single mom, I needed a lot of resources. And because of my language skills, I was able to access them. But what if I didn’t have these language skills? What if I didn’t have transportation? If you don't know how to read or how to use the bus it's even harder to navigate or find resources. What we are doing at Oregon Food Bank is really great. Reaching out to everybody and bringing these resources for the community is great because they know that somebody cares and somebody thinks about their needs.” — Eman, OFB Ambassador

Read Eman’s story here

Advocacy for Systemic Change in Oregon:

Oregon Food Bank actively engages in advocacy efforts to address the root causes of hunger. By prioritizing the needs of single mothers and caregivers, Oregon Food Bank advocates for equity-driven policies. Addressing systems rooted in oppression requires dismantling anti-Blackness, settler colonialism and practices and policies that perpetuate White supremacy. We work collaboratively to dismantle harmful systems, including with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, ACLU of Oregon, Family Forward Oregon, Fair Shot For All and others. Partnering with these organizations, Oregon Food Bank seeks to drive systemic change and support a thriving Oregon.

Individuals who hold an identity of Oregon Food Bank’s equity constituencies contribute valuable leadership to ending hunger and its root causes while also experiencing disproportionately higher rates of food insecurity and discrimination. Through following the leadership of single moms and caregivers, Oregon Food Bank taps into a wellspring of knowledge, shaping innovative and effective strategies to end hunger and its root causes.

Resources:

  • Preschool for All: Connects 3- and 4-year-olds in Multnomah County to free, culturally responsive, inclusive preschool experiences.
  • Employment Related Child Care (ERDC): ERDC is a state subsidy to help families afford child care. Subsidy amounts depend on the child's age, caregiver employment, provider type, and location within the state.
  • Community Child Care Initiative (CCI): The Community Childcare Initiative offers Portland families and child care providers financial assistance for child care. Eligible families pay no more than 8% of their monthly gross income for child care. The program is funded by the Portland Children's Levy.
  • Baby Promise: Baby Promise offers free, full-day quality care and education for eligible children ages 6 weeks to 3 years old. Baby Promise is a state funded program designed to help families find and maintain high-quality infant and toddler care.
  • Preschool Promise: Preschool Promise is available to families who are at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. It is open to children who are 3 and 4 years old. Preschool Promise is a state funded program and offers preschool slots in school, centers, and with in-home preschool providers.
  • Our Children Oregon: Advocates, connectors, and educators who bring communities together to share best practices, learn from experience, and inform through data.
  • Child Care for Oregon: A coalition of nonprofit organizations, labor unions, community advocates, parents, caregivers and providers working to build a comprehensive child care system in Oregon.

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