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Oregon Children Facing Food Insecurity

According to Feeding America, 1 in 7 Oregon children suffer from food insecurity.  This means that 1 in 7 children in Oregon cannot count on eating 3 meals a day every day.  What they can count on is spending time every week struggling against the pains of hunger.  They can count on having to study math, science, or history while an empty stomach demands their attention.  They can count on dreading the weekend, or spring break, when they may return home to empty cupboards and an empty refrigerator.

This may not be a problem in your home, but it’s in our community and in our schools.  It is in our neighborhoods.  Maybe it’s down the street.  Maybe next door. 

Or perhaps you’re all too familiar with childhood hunger.  Perhaps you remember the struggle of food insecurity and the hardships it brings. Perhaps you worry that your children may face the same struggles.

Today I’m here to tell you that, Together, we can change this.  Together, we must change this.  We must end childhood hunger in Oregon.

Right now, in response to the pandemic, the US Department of Agriculture is reimbursing school districts around the country when they provide school children access to 2 free meals a day.  This coverage is set to expire in June, at the end of this school year.  The US Senate has moved to extend this program, but that extension has been blocked. 

The State of Oregon must be ready to step in and provide this coverage should the program not be extended.  We will expand the program to provide to our children access to meals during the summer, and take-home meals for the evenings and for the weekends.  But sometimes simply giving access to food isn’t enough.  So, we will empower the Oregon School Nutrition Programs to seek out and identify what specific issues are causing Oregon children to slip through the cracks, and we will take action to correct those causes.

Now, if we can reduce childhood hunger to 1 in 10, 1 in 15 or 1 in 20, those are achievements worthy of celebration.  But no amount of childhood hunger in Oregon is acceptable.  My commitment is that until we reach 0% of Oregon children suffering from food insecurity, we still have work to do.  

This is a significant logistical, strategic, and moral challenge facing our state.  But the challenges of today can be the victories of tomorrow.  And I fiercely believe that we can achieve those victories, together.

Friends of Benjamin Watts, ID: 21911
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