by Susannah Morgan, CEO
Since the pandemic began, one thing has become more clear than ever: public services are vital.
1 in 5 Oregonians out of work, and unemployment claims are being filed at record levels. Applications for SNAP food assistance have increased by 400%. Our childcare system is in crisis and public health costs are skyrocketing.
Thousands of families are experiencing job and income loss in recent weeks — and are accessing these public services for the first time. Thousands more have faced disproportionate hunger and poverty for many years — and are now in an even deeper crisis due to COVID-19.
No matter where we live, in large cities, mid-sized suburbs or rural communities, core public services are perhaps more critical than ever before. Yet recent state revenue forecasts could lead to budget cuts that endanger the very programs our communities depend on to recover from this pandemic and emerge stronger.
That’s why Oregon Food Bank has joined leaders from Family Forward Oregon and the Coalition of Communities of Color in a public call to maintain support for all Oregonians who have been impacted by COVID-19. Because we simply can’t risk making the health and economic crises worse with hasty decisions.
To start, we can commit to maintaining programs that are vital to our communities’ health and well-being. Even before the crisis, programs like SNAP made it possible for 1 in 7 Oregonians to buy groceries and feed their kids. The Oregon Health Plan has ensured healthcare access for more than a million Oregonians in the midst of a global public health crisis. Childcare assistance makes the work of countless first responders and essential workers possible.
Any response to the state’s revenue forecast must ensure these critical programs are accessible to the increasing number of families in every county who need them.
So I hope you’ll join me in reaching out to your state legislators (with our easy-to-use form, it only takes a minute!). Ask them to avoid devastating cuts to the programs that more and more of our families rely on — and invest in initiatives that sustain communities and promote equity.
State leaders have been fantastic partners so far in our shared effort to meet the public health crisis head-on. And with your support and advocacy, I know they’ll continue to be strong partners in our work to emerge stronger from the long-term economic fallout.
Thank you so much for all you do to build stronger, more resilient communities.