Ending food insecurity isn’t just about access to food. To truly eliminate hunger for good, we have to address the legacy of systemic racism and disinvestment that continues to drive hunger and poverty in our communities today. The root causes of racial disparities in our criminal legal system also cause disproportionate hunger among People of Color. That’s why reimagining safety in our communities is essential to our vision for a hunger-free future.
We need a public safety system that is built on accountability and growth – not one that perpetuates isolation and makes it harder to fully participate in our communities. Studies show that 90% of people returning from incarceration experience food insecurity — and 75% report that it is “extremely difficult” or “impossible” to find a job post-incarceration, which continues cycles of poverty. Among households with a formerly incarcerated family member, 70% struggle to meet essential needs like food and housing.
The connection between hunger and interactions with the criminal legal system are clear — and People of Color are vastly overrepresented in Oregon’s prisons and jails. Black Oregonians are nearly 4 times more likely to be imprisoned than White peers. Native Americans make up only 1% of the state population, yet are triple that figure in the state prison population. This widespread over-incarceration in Black, Indigenous and Communities of Color worsens longtime racial disparities in food insecurity rates.
State lawmakers have only a few weeks left to pass policies that can mitigate the harms of our criminal legal system — and reduce the number of families that face hunger and poverty in our communities. That’s why we’re supporting policies that ensure a more just and inclusive Oregon — and you can join us by contacting your legislators today.
Learn more about the anti-hunger policies we’re supporting this legislative session:
Healing Hurt People (Victims’ Healing and Gun Violence Prevention)
Healing Hurt People is a hospital crisis intervention program that supports victims of violence and their families during traumatic events. This culturally-specific approach pairs survivors with trusted advocates, who connect them with a range of supports — including housing, medical follow-up and substance use treatment. By investing in healing we can break the cycle of violence, trauma and poverty, while improving community safety across Oregon. Learn more about this program from the transforming Justice Coalition’s website or in this one-page summary.
PASSED! Earned Discharge Consistency (SB 581)
Thank you to everyone who supported this important legislation!
We know that involvement in the criminal legal system has wide-ranging impacts on individuals, families and whole communities — and leads to disproportionate hunger and poverty. Oregon’s earned discharge system allows people to earn a meaningful reduction in probation or parole if they successfully meet supervision conditions. This policy change ensures that people convicted of minor crimes have a stronger chance to rebuild their lives. Learn more about this policy in Learn more in Oregon Food Bank's testimony on public safety and food insecurity.
We need our elected officials to reform aspects of our criminal legal system that cause and perpetuate hunger, poverty and systemic racism. H Historic inequities and systemic exclusions mean that Black, Indigenous and Communities of Color, immigrants and refugees, single moms and caregivers, and trans and gender-diverse communities are two-to-three times more likely to face hunger and poverty in our region. By addressing disparities in our criminal legal system, we can ensure everyone in Oregon has access to the resources we need to thrive.
Ever since Republicans in the State Senate walked off the job, our state legislators have been blocked from passing these kinds of transformative policies and investments to end hunger for good.
We count on our elected officials to work for us, and it’s time for them to come together and do what’s right for our communities. Learn more and join us in urging Senate Republicans to come back to work on behalf of people facing hunger in Oregon.