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A Pledge to 'Vote Out Hunger' During Hunger Action Month

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Oregon Food Bank is supporting a measure that would decriminalize drugs and increase funding for addiction recovery services. (Oregon Food Bank)
Oregon Food Bank is supporting a measure that would decriminalize drugs and increase funding for addiction recovery services. (Oregon Food Bank)
 By Eric Tegethoff - Producer, Contact
September 4, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. - September is Hunger Action Month and in Oregon, anti-hunger advocates are volunteering, donating and pledging to "Vote Out Hunger."

Susannah Morgan, CEO of the Oregon Food Bank, said hunger is at its highest level in a century because of the economic fallout from COVID-19. And with the election coming up, she said people have a chance to vote on public policy changes that will help in the fight against food insecurity.

"We have a number of ballot initiatives that are happening statewide and in the Portland metro area," said Morgan, "that will help us build community and create the kind of infrastructures where it will be harder to have hunger happen."

Morgan said Oregon Food Bank is supporting the statewide Measure 110, which would decriminalize drug possession and divert marijuana tax revenue to fund addiction services. Oregon ranks next-to-last in the nation for access to mental health and substance-use services, according to Mental Health America.

Haven Wheelock is a chief petitioner for Measure 110 and works with the group Outside In, and its drug-users health services program in Portland. She said she's seen people prioritize their addiction over getting a meal, and also the stigma that comes with substance-use disorders.

Wheelock said she believes Measure 110 is about human rights.

"Anything we can do to help lift people out of poverty is going to improve the fact that people are going hungry in our community," said Wheelock. "And by supporting families and people who have substance-use disorders, we will improve access to food and food security for folks."

Wheelock said she is convinced the ballot measure also would mean fewer Oregonians in jails and prisons, noting that people with criminal records have less economic stability and less access to social services.

Opponents of Measure 110 believe it will lead to increased drug use.

Oregon Food Bank also supports a Multnomah County measure to provide universal preschool. Morgan said it would level the playing field for people of all racial and economic backgrounds, and that education is a key anti-hunger building block. She said she sees racial justice work as anti-hunger work.

"We would urge people, as part of 'voting out' hunger, to also support continued work towards racial justice, such as police accountability measures," said Morgan.

September 10 is Hunger Action Day.

Disclosure: Oregon Food Bank contributes to our fund for reporting on Community Issues and Volunteering, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Poverty Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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