May 15, 2012
Good morning. I’m delighted to be here to recognize just a few of the leaders across Oregon state government who stepped up this year to make the Governor’s Food Drive a success.
I don’t need to tell you that too many Oregonians are struggling … too many of our neighbors are unable to meet their basic needs. We have one the highest rates of childhood hunger and homelessness in the nation. One in five children doesn’t get enough to eat.
The human tragedy of this is obvious: less so is the tremendous toll poverty takes on the future prosperity of our state. Children who grow up in poverty have lower earnings as adults, poorer health, and are more likely to be involved in crime. In fact, failing to address hunger costs our state $2.1 billion annually, primarily from health care costs associated with poor nutrition and educational losses for kids who are too hungry to concentrate.
Oregon is so rich in natural resources, so blessed with human ingenuity, that it’s unacceptable for our state to have so many people struggling to make ends meet. But, thankfully, we’re doing something about it.
My administration is dedicated to improving Oregon’s health care delivery, strengthening our education services, and supporting efforts focused on making Oregon a more prosperous place to live, learn, and do business.
First Lady Cylvia Hayes is leading the Oregon Prosperity Initiative, which aims to ensure that people who are struggling to feed and shelter themselves and their families have access to critical resources as soon as they need them, while also promoting strategies that address the long-standing, systemic root causes of poverty.
And all of you are doing something about, too, by participating in the Food Drive and helping to top last year’s giving. This past year, you helped raise the equivalent of 4 million pounds of food, up from 3.8 million the year before. Thousands of state employees have giving money, food, and time to food banks across Oregon – efforts that show how much you care about your fellow Oregonians’ well-being and prosperity both in the day-to-day of your work, and in how you give outside of work.
So, counted among Oregon’s rich natural resources is our citizenry – and I’d like to thank everyone who participated and recognize just a few who showed some incredible leadership and teamwork this year. Let’s recognize the six first place winners from this year’s food drive.