by Susannah Morgan, CEO
We can’t emerge stronger without essential workers, yet tens of thousands of them will be left behind if we don’t act. Fortunately, there’s an incredibly important effort underway to support these critical members of our communities: The Oregon Worker Relief Fund (OWRF).
As you know, the Oregon Food Bank Network serves more than 860,000 people each year — and that number is growing dramatically in the wake of COVID-19. This work is fueled by community support, along with significant investments from our partners in state and federal emergency response.
You’re no doubt aware of the recent stimulus payments and expansion of unemployment insurance and SNAP (sometimes known as food stamps). But what you may not know is that approximately 74,000 of our neighbors aren’t eligible for COVID relief programs.
The sole reason they’re ineligible? Because they’re immigrants.
It doesn’t seem to matter that many are essential workers — people who are critical to our food supply and healthcare system here in the Pacific Northwest and across the country — they’re still ineligible by the federal government’s standards.
And here’s the thing: many of these essential workers and their families already faced housing and food insecurity — challenges that are even worse by this public health crisis. It’s a travesty that so many of our neighbors have fallen through the cracks.
That’s why we joined Causa Oregon and a host of community partners in investing in the Oregon Worker Relief Fund (OWRF). The fund is designed to fill gaps in our social safety net and provide direct funding to individuals that do not currently qualify for public benefits. And thanks to our community’s advocacy, the Oregon Legislature has also made a significant investment in the fund.
These are incredibly important first steps, but we know more must be done. We need additional action to ensure that no one goes hungry in Oregon. Because when any member of our community is at risk, we’re all at risk – our health and well-being is tied to each and every one of our friends, colleagues and neighbors. And it is especially important that we support our essential workers in this moment — they are critical to our shared effort to Emerge Stronger from COVID-19.
So I hope you’ll join me in supporting the Oregon Worker Relief Fund today. Because together, we can create a future where Oregonians all across the state – rural and urban communities alike – have food, healthcare, housing and economic security
Thank you, as always, for all you do to help our communities #EmergeStronger.
P.S. Are you involved in an organization that shares our belief in supporting our immigrant neighbors? Sign on to endorse OWRF.