By Susannah Morgan, CEO, Oregon Food Bank
Oregon is approaching a full week without a functional government. The walkout staged by legislative Republicans has a huge impact both on critical programs and the broader democratic process.
At Oregon Food Bank, our mission is to eliminate hunger and its root causes. We pursue this goal in two key ways: we connect people across the state with the nutritious food they need today; and we work to address public policies that drive hunger and poverty. The walkout places both aspects of our mission squarely at risk.
There’s so much more at stake in this legislative session than a single bill or policy proposal. If the full legislature doesn’t show up to do its job, critical services don’t receive necessary support. Without a functional and inclusive democracy, more people face hunger and houselessness. There is no other venue to bring these issues or solutions to the table — and walking away from that table over isolated policy differences is an abdication of responsibility to our communities.
Our statewide network of food banks is incredibly fortunate and proud to have earned the support of a broad, bi-partisan coalition of elected leaders. But we have no hope of achieving our shared mission to end hunger when half that coalition refuses to show up to work. No discussion or decision-making takes place when lawmakers don’t show up to make laws.
Oregon families deserve better, and I hope you’ll join us in urging Senate Leader Herman Baertschiger and House Leader Christine Drazen to return to the capital and pass policies that support Oregonians facing hunger and poverty.