September is Hunger Action Month and HDFFA recognizes that this month is not an exception for Central Oregonians experiencing food insecurity. We aim to promote community collaboration, awareness, and action in the fight against hunger. September stands as a reminder of the necessity for our community to unite in efforts of civic engagement, donation drives, and policy advocacy. This month marks the beginning of fall, and the end of the growing season. Kids head back to school. September also comes with reminders to register to vote, as the November midterm elections approach. Each of these markers of the changing season is connected to food and food security, and impacts farmers, ranchers, and families across Oregon.
Hunger Action Month in Central Oregon
According to 2020 data, approximately 30% of Central Oregonians experienced food insecurity that year. In 2022, the number of Central Oregonians experiencing food insecurity or financial hardship has increased upwards of 30% each month during the summer, as reported by local hunger relief organizations. Food remains difficult for many in our community to access. Many intersecting issues worsen the situation. These include inflation, economic instability, supply chain disruptions, and climate-related events such as wildfires and drought.
Public policy has a strong influence on food insecurity in our state and across the nation. To combat the systemic challenges that affect families and farmers in our communities, we have to gain government support and investment. Oregon Food Bank’s Policy Leadership Council, made up of community leaders in rural, suburban, and urban parts of Oregon, has named the root causes of food insecurity and how best to address those barriers. These systemic barriers to food access are present in ballot measures this fall. The Oregon Food Bank Policy Leadership Council has identified the initiatives that can make a difference in Oregon. We outline the ballot measures, and how your vote can make a difference, below.
Oregon Measure 111: This would ensure that the state must make healthcare affordable for all. HDFFA believes that everyone deserves nutritious food and access to healthcare. Our health is linked directly to food system inequities. Recent Studies show that healthcare costs linked to food insecurity have surpassed $538 million yearly in Oregon alone. Paying these costs is difficult because nearly 200,000 Oregonians report being uninsured. People have to make impossible financial decisions.
Oregon Measure 112: This will remove all language from the Oregon constitution that allows slavery as a form of punishment. Slavery is still legal in our constitution, which allows for slavery and servitude as punishment for crimes in Oregon. Systemic and systematic racism and inequality are major root causes of hunger in our state; communities of color are disproportionately affected by food insecurity and poverty. Because HDFFA believes that everyone deserves food, we recognize the importance of addressing the causes of hunger in our communities. Oregon Measure 112 will remove slavery and involuntary servitude from our state constitution. It also acknowledges the injustices in our state’s history, and how those injustices have created inequities in our food system.
In addition to taking action on your ballot this fall, HDFFA invites you to join us in battling the root causes of hunger. Our Food Access programs and projects — Fresh Harvest Kit, Grow & Give, and Supported CSA — aim to get fresh, local food from Central Oregon farmers into the hands of those experiencing food insecurity in our community. With the transition into fall, heartier vegetables like squash, kale, and carrots are abundant. You can support our Grow & Give program by volunteering with the Harvest Team to glean produce from local farms. All produce harvested is donated directly to the NeighborImpact Food Bank.
Additionally, HDFFA will soon host our Fall Harvest Box Fundraiser! You can choose to purchase two meal options: a ready-to-make meal kit or a VIP fully prepared meal by Chef Thor Erikson of Cascade Culinary Institute. Both options are bursting with seasonal local produce. All funds raised from the harvest boxes support HDFFA Food Access and Agricultural Support programs. These programs aim to enable all in our community to access nutritious, affordable, and culturally appropriate foods, as well as educational and financial resources. By supporting our fall fundraiser, you support this work and strength the local food economy.
Fighting hunger looks different in each community. There are many ways you can help to solidify our local food system! You could:
- Support local faith-based organizations
- Donate or gift food
- Growing your own food
- Supporting local farmers and ranchers
One of our food bank partners, NeighborImpact, offers an informational resource that can guide you on how to donate or get involved in your community. You can also get connected through your neighbors, policy advocates, non-profits, and hunger relief agencies. This September, join HDFFA in taking action against hunger and food insecurity in Central Oregon and lifting up our local food systems.