Last week, Oregon legislation wrapped up the 2024 short session. As the dust settles on the whirlwind five weeks of lobby days, legislator meetings, letters, one-on-ones and more, the Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon team is reflecting on the wins and misses from this session and the after-effects that Oregonians will see and feel. We’re celebrating some major victories for kids’ access to meals during school and summer, and addressing some root causes of food insecurity. But we’re also holding disappointment for other critical issues that legislators failed to prioritize.

Huge wins for Oregon kids

We are thrilled to win three big changes that will support Oregon kids’ readiness to learn and grow and reduce child hunger.

Summer EBT will narrow the summer hunger gap, providing food benefits to low-income children while school is out for the summer and they don’t have access to school meals. This program will also bring in $83 million of federal benefits into Oregon’s economy. 

Second, thanks to our successful push for a state rule change, Oregon is expected to bring universal school meals to hundreds of new schools next year!

We are also celebrating an investment of $30 million for summer learning programs. Summer learning is proven to increase educational and behavioral outcomes, and is a key way for kids to access meals while school is out.

These new pieces of legislation will get us closer to an Oregon where all children have an equal opportunity to succeed in school and get a healthy start on life. 

In other food access news

We are proud to see legislation that supports the establishment of a SNAP for Hot Food program (SB 1585), and also provides emergency stabilization to the Child and Adult Care Food Program!

Multiple wins addressing root causes of food insecurity 

We know that food insecurity does not exist in a vacuum, and to truly end hunger in Oregon we must support Oregon families on issues like housing, daycare, fair wages, and equity across the board. Today, we’re applauding the passing of funding for Employment-Related Daycare and the Emergency Housing Stability and Production Package.

Unfinished business

While we have much to celebrate, we are also holding disappointment in areas where legislators failed to prioritize the needs of our community. 

The Student Emergency Basic Needs Package would have supported higher education students struggling with the basic needs essential for learning. Unfortunately, a considerable number of higher education students are grappling with housing and food insecurity, and the benefits navigators stationed on campuses are not empowered with adequate resources to help.

We are also disheartened to see the passing of HB 4002, which recriminalizes the personal use of drugs instead of taking a public health approach to addiction. Research has shown that the criminalization of low-level drug possession increases poverty and hunger for generations. Oregon lawmakers falsely blamed drug decriminalization when what Oregon needs is accessible and affordable housing, addiction services, and healthcare.  

Advocates have been working for these issues for decades, and we know that fighting for justice is a marathon, not a sprint. These setbacks will not deter us, and we will continue to build community power and keep our hearts focused on the vision of a just, equitable and hunger-free Oregon. 

Looking ahead

In our next chapter, we will be focusing on coalition building and strategy planning for some big, long-term goals. 

School Meals for All: Oregon has made impressive strides in removing barriers for kids to access food at school, and it is time to bring it home. Nine states have already passed legislation and Oregon can be next! We are building a strong coalition of organizations and are preparing milestone legislation for the 2025 legislative session. 

Sign the pledge to support School Meals for All.

Food for All Oregonians: We are looking forward to bringing Food for All Oregonians to the Oregon legislation in 2025, to support the 62,000 Oregonians currently excluded from vital food assistance programs simply because of immigration status. Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon is shifting from our role as co-conveners of the campaign, and will remain deeply involved as Steering Committee members moving forward. We are currently pushing to get this critical legislation on the Governor’s budget for the upcoming year. 

Please take a moment to tell Governor Kotek that every Oregonian deserves access to the food they need to thrive, regardless of where they were born.

Roadmap to End Hunger:
In collaboration with the Oregon Hunger Task Force, we are inspired to embark on the Roadmap to End Hunger this season. This will be a holistic, research-informed policy platform that creates an actionable path to end hunger in Oregon with a systems approach.

Your support made this all possible. Your calls, emails, donations, input and encouragement of all sorts got us to the finish line. Because of our advocacy:

  • 294,000 low-income Oregon schoolkids will receive $120 in food benefits at the start of the summer
  • 1,900 families on the Employment-Related Day Care waitlist will have access to childcare
  • Hundreds of additional Oregon schools have funds to provide universal school meals to all students next year.

Thank you for being a part of the movement to end hunger in Oregon!