Hunger is an Equity Issue

by Annie Kirschner

Hunger harms us all as a society, but it impacts some of us in Oregon far more than others.

Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon has long been committed to addressing economic inequality in order to accomplish our mission, and we point to poverty as one clear root cause of hunger. One in seven families in Oregon reports not consistently having the money to purchase enough nourishing food.

We know there are other root causes—even deeper and more complexly woven into the root structure of our society—like systemic racism and sexism.

Among those experiencing poverty some people are at far greater risk of hunger. Food insecurity disproportionately impacts communities of color, recent immigrants, families with children and particularly households led by single mothers, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community and people in rural areas of Oregon.

We simply won’t achieve our vision of a hunger-free Oregon, where everyone is healthy and thriving, without specifically focusing on preventing hunger for these groups of people.

As an organization we hope to increase our understanding of the factors that contribute to inequity in our society, and to contextualize instances of historical and current oppression into the conversations we are a part of.

We will seek tools to lead the anti-hunger and nutrition sector in Oregon in pointing out inequity and oppression as root causes of hunger and poverty. We will be bold in publicizing the evidence of disparities in who experiences hunger and its impact on health and educational outcomes. We will advocate for policy changes to dismantle systemic oppression, and hold all of us accountable in creating a state in which everyone has equal opportunity to thrive.

To accomplish this, we recognize that we need to examine our internal organizational practices as they relate to diversity and inclusion and have begun this assessment. In our work to document the extent of hunger, we will seek to collect, disaggregate and analyze data by race, ethnicity, gender, age and geography in programmatic and operational work. We will create a bigger megaphone for people to share stories of their own lived experiences of hunger. We commit to apply an equity lens to our program strategies, public policy development use of resources and partnerships going forward.

In our pursuit of equity and justice, we reaffirm the founding declaration of the Oregon Hunger Task Force that “All Persons Have the Right to be Free from Hunger” and recommit to work on behalf of those disproportionately denied that right.

-From the Staff and Board of Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon