Hunger Action Month is an annual time where communities across the country come together to bring focus, attention and action to the fight to end hunger for good. Whether as volunteer, advocate or donor, thousands of us get involved throughout September and beyond — with a major focus on the root causes of hunger that can be addressed at the ballot box. Because hunger is very much on the ballot this fall.
So many of the drivers of hunger are addressed — or not addressed — through public policy. And our ability to ensure food reaches hard-hit communities throughout the state depends on robust government investment. So the issues we advance through the legislature and ballot initiatives have a huge impact on our fight to end hunger. And there’s no one better to name solutions than those of us who have experienced food insecurity first-hand.
That’s where our Policy Leadership Council comes in. Made up entirely of community leaders from rural, urban and suburban communities across the state, the Council draws on lived and professional expertise to determine the best pathways to address food insecurity at its roots. With the Council’s leadership, we’re shortening the distance between people who experience food insecurity and the decisions that affect us — and there are several statewide and local initiatives we’re prioritizing this fall.
Oregon Measure 111: Vote YES to Make Healthcare Affordable for All
No matter where we were born, how much money we make, or the color of our skin, we all deserve access to nutritious food and affordable healthcare. Measure 111 requires the state to make sure everyone in Oregon can access quality care, without having to go into heavy debt or cut back on essentials like food.
Healthcare and hunger are directly connected. A lack of nutritious food can seriously harm our health — and high medical costs force impossible decisions between the food and care we need to thrive.
Studies show that health challenges tied to food insecurity cost upwards of $583 million each year in Oregon alone. On the individual level, this means more than $1,400 in health-related costs annually for people already facing hunger and poverty. What’s more, nearly 200,000 Oregonians report being totally uninsured — and we know that Black, Indigenous, Latine, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities face even greater challenges obtaining health coverage.
Across rural, urban and suburban communities, too many Oregonians struggle to access essentials like food and healthcare. Vote YES on Measure 111 to make affordable healthcare a right in Oregon — and address a key root cause of hunger.
Oregon Measure 112: Vote YES to Remove Slavery from Our Laws
People are not property — and slavery and other types of involuntary servitude should have no place in our laws in 2022, period. Measure 112 will remove all language from the Oregon constitution that allows slavery as a form of punishment.
It may seem unbelievable, but the Oregon constitution permits slavery as a form of punishment. From our founding, the state constitution barred Black families from owning a home, voting or accessing the legal system. Attempting to engage in any of these aspects of regular life was considered a criminal act. Ever since, slavery and involuntary servitude have been allowed as potential punishments for crime — and remain on the books to this day.
With racism and exclusion explicitly written into our founding documents, it’s not hard to see how huge barriers and disparities resulted. Today, communities of color face disproportionate hunger and poverty in every corner of the state.
To move toward an equitable future where no one in our communities knows hunger, we need to correct past wrongs — especially those that remain today. Vote YES on Measure 112 to remove slavery and involuntary servitude from the state constitution.
Vote YES on Multnomah County Charter Updates
Reform of the Multnomah County Charter will make local government more responsive and transparent. Community safety and well-being will be prioritized. And thousands more county residents will finally have a direct say in the decisions that affect us.
Among several key reforms, these measures will:
Create a county ombudsman’s office to hold government accountable to the people — paired with timely delivery of public records
Increase safety inspections of county jails and facilities
Extend voting rights to more county residents, including those who hold visas
Allow voters to rank candidates in order of their preference
Vote YES on Portland City Charter Reform
Following 18 months of input and vetting, the combined measure will bring meaningful, comprehensive change to the Portland City Charter — making city government more accountable and responsive to community needs. The reform package will enable more effective city services and offer greater choice in who represents our communities on key issues.
Among several key reforms, this measure will:
Create district-based representation with an expanded City Council
Establish a Mayor-Council government structure
Add professional management of city departments
Allow voters to rank candidates in order of their preference
Each of the measures endorsed by our Policy Leadership Council make important strides in addressing historic oppression, expanding access to healthcare, increasing community power in decision making by our elected officials and increasing representation. We believe that these proposals will strengthen our local government and increase access for people to participate in democracy.
But these aren’t the only ballot priorities that directly affect hunger and poverty in our communities. Legislators pass laws that impact our families’ ability to put food on the table. Governors set budget priorities that determine whether or not our food assistance network has the resources we need (learn more about where they stand here). And depending on where you live, you may see initiatives on racial justice, community safety, access to the ballot and more — all tied to food insecurity.
So whether or not you’re able to vote in Oregon, please sign the pledge to address hunger on the ballot this fall. Together we can end hunger at its roots!