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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Gov. Whitmer endorses Kamala Harris for president, says she's not leaving Michigan; Grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, Secret Service director says, 'We failed;' Teachers rally at national convention in Houston; Opioid settlement fund fuels anti-addiction battle in Indiana; Nonprofit agency says corporate donations keep programs going.

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Democrats consolidate support behind Vice President Harris, Republicans threaten legal action over changes to the presidential ticket, and a possible bipartisan consensus forms on the failure of the Secret Service to protect former President Trump.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Community organizing key for ending hunger in rural OR

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Wednesday, June 19, 2024   

Organizing to end hunger is one tool groups are using in Oregon to highlight and address the issue.

Workers said advocacy is especially important in rural parts of the state, where food insecurity is higher.

Eddie Melendrez, southeast Oregon community organizer for Oregon Food Bank, based in Ontario, said pantry sites have seen increased need as food assistance from the pandemic has expired. Melendrez stressed people can make their voices heard on the issue of hunger.

"It's very important so folks kind of see the power that they have that they maybe didn't know that they did have," Melendrez emphasized. "And how they can take collective action to make change in the communities, to ask questions, to show up and to hold our elected officials accountable."

According to data released by Feeding America in 2022, the average rate of food insecurity in Oregon was about 13%. The rates were even higher than the state average in eastern parts of the state. In Malheur County, where Ontario is located, the food insecurity rate was 16 %.

Melendrez said organizing takes many different forms, such as holding workshops or forums and he meets people wherever he needs to for his work. He helps take people to Salem to lobby for legislation, to city council meetings to give public comments, and shows them the power of writing letters to the editor.

Melendrez added he reaches out to people who feel powerless.

"Try to make those connections to the folks that maybe are excluded or maybe are not included," Melendrez explained.

More than 100 organizations, including Oregon Food Bank, are pushing for the state to pass "Food for All Oregonians" legislation, which would open up food access for people of different immigrant statuses.

Sienna Kaske, lead campaign strategist for Oregon Food Bank, said the organization needs to collaborate with other groups who work outside the food space to end hunger.

"Whether you're working on housing, you're working to address health care injustices, there's always something around food that we can connect back," Kaske pointed out.

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


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