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PRESS RELEASE: Oregon Food Bank Launches Statewide Policy Leadership Council

Community members with lived experience of hunger and its root causes to lead public policy and grassroots advocacy efforts

PORTLAND, OR — Oregon Food Bank (OFB) today announced the launch of its statewide Policy Leadership Council, a new governing body that places public policy and grassroots advocacy decisions in the hands of community members. The Council is made up entirely of community leaders who also have lived experience of food insecurity, systemic racism, gender oppression and other root causes of hunger. Collectively, their leadership advances Oregon Food Bank’s 10-year vision and belief that the strongest solutions to food insecurity come from community expertise.

Representing urban, rural and suburban communities from Astoria to Umatilla, Eugene to Grande Ronde, the 15-member statewide body brings an incredible depth of local leadership and experience to the food bank’s mission to end hunger and its root causes. Together, the Council will set Oregon Food Bank's grassroots advocacy agenda by identifying and addressing the policies and systems that drive hunger and poverty in our communities. [Meet members of the OFB Policy Leadership Council.]

“Enacting a Policy Leadership Council that’s not only Black, Indigenous and other people of color — but people from all walks of life — that have experienced some sort of oppression is important,” shared Yaneli Hernandez-Tapia (she/her/hers), a Salem-based member of the Council. “It brings our unique lenses into enacting policy changes that have an impact at the statewide or local levels.”

In the coming months, the Policy Leadership Council will work to:

  • Identify the most significant root causes of hunger in communities that disproportionately experience food insecurity

  • Develop a roadmap to guide Oregon Food Bank efforts to change policies and systems that drive hunger

  • Set Oregon Food Bank positions on key legislation and ballot measures that align with this systems-change platform

Drawing on lived experience and expertise, the Policy Leadership Council aims to address inequities in our political and social systems that drive hunger. “The system isn’t made for us; it’s made to exploit us as People of Color. How do we engage in the system, but also address the inequity in the system?,” asked Andrea Gonzalez (she/her/ella), a Council member from Astoria. “It’s important to assess what causes the metaphorical fires for families and think bigger-scale — like policy change — in order to meet the needs of the community, especially those who have been marginalized for so long.”

Though a number of food banks include community input in decision-making processes, Oregon Food Bank is among the first in the nation to ensure community members are in the lead on public policy and advocacy decisions. The food bank’s Board of Directors embraced creation of the Policy Leadership Council as a critical step in advancing a shared commitment to equity and racial justice.

“This is an incredible moment for Oregon Food Bank and the broader movement to end hunger and its root causes,” said Susannah Morgan (she/her/hers), Oregon Food Bank CEO. “Together with our Board, the Policy Leadership Council will build the grassroots power we need to achieve our vision for resilient communities that never go hungry.”

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