REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
Oregon Food Bank Fundraiser
June 9, 2020
Thanks for having me, and thanks to the Oregon Food Bank for putting this great event together.
I come to you today, in the midst of troubled times. While Oregon’s approach to this global pandemic has flattened the curve and saved lives, the economic downturn has been devastating to families across the state.
We know that less than 1 in 4 low-income Americans have emergency funds that would last them three months.
The impacts of the coronavirus have fallen especially hard on communities of color in the U.S., and here in Oregon. We know that the median wealth of Black families is only one-tenth that of White families.
This is, in part, why families of color are more likely to fall behind on their bills and go into debt during times of emergency, like a global pandemic.
The economic disruption caused by the coronavirus has led to a significant spike in hunger and food insecurity.
Thankfully, the Oregon Food Bank Network has risen to meet that challenge. That’s what we do here in Oregon: we take care of each other, even when times are tough and the future is uncertain.
I was pleased to have been able to act swiftly to help the Oregon Food Bank Network address food insecurity by allocating $8 million towards food purchase.
The Oregon Food Bank has been spending that amount at the rate of about $1 million a week to ensure all Oregonians have the food they need to weather this health crisis.
The Department of Human Services has also been addressing hunger by actively expanding SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.
SNAP applications have increased 400%, so it has been imperative that as a state we take advantage of the Pandemic EBT program authorized by Congress.
This program provides cash benefits for families whose children would have been receiving a free or reduced price meal at school - a huge lifeline for these struggling families.
I have also approved $30 million for protection of Oregon farmworkers and workers in the food supply chain, to ensure Oregonians who are maintaining the supply chain from harvest to shelves to hands are safe and healthy.
I just want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support of Oregon Food Bank.
Your support is absolutely critical to meeting the needs of our fellow Oregonians.
Now, I understand that Susannah is about to announce an extremely generous donation by an individual to strengthen the Oregon Food Bank Network - so let me turn this conversation back over to Susannah for that news.