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Hunger on the Ballot: Systemic Racism

Many of the drivers of hunger are addressed through public policy — from government investment in emergency food assistance to the systems that exclude too many of us from essential services and safety nets.

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. Our Policy Leadership Council is made up entirely of community leaders from rural, urban and suburban communities across the state who draw 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 affordable healthcare is among the statewide and local initiatives we’re prioritizing this fall.

We Can’t End Hunger without Addressing Systemic Racism

The most significant root cause of hunger is poverty. And poverty, itself, is driven by a host of systems and structures, with racism and other forms of discrimination at the top. This means racial justice work is anti-hunger work; anti-hunger work is racial justice work. We can’t successfully pursue one without the other.

The symptoms of systemic racism and oppression know many names: Health inequities. Police violence. Mass incarceration. Poverty. Hunger. We see the undeniable evidence and effects of these injustices every day in our work at Oregon Food Bank — especially in the disproportionate impact of food insecurity in communities of color throughout the region.

Over more than three decades, our work to address food insecurity — and our own lived experiences — confirm the undeniable connection between hunger, racism and other systemic inequities. Many of these systems go back generations. Some exclusions go all the way back to our state’s founding. Some of the worst remain active and enforceable to this very day. And our fall ballots present an opportunity to fix it

Oregon Measure 112: Vote YES to Remove Slavery from Our State Constitution

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.

What Measure 112 Does

This measure removes what is known as “slavery loophole” language from the Oregon Constitution. Voting YES will cross out language in the Oregon Constitution that still allows for slavery or involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime. Slavery for any reason is morally wrong — and the measure will remove this relic from our state constitution and uphold our values as Oregonians.

What Measure 112 Does Not Do

This measure does not end prison work programs. Current work, community service, training, and rehabilitation programs will all remain for those in custody and on parole. Similarly, the measure will not free people from prison — or impact sentencing, parole, or early release proceedings.

Hunger on the Ballot

Measure 112 isn’t the only ballot priority that directly affects 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. 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!

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