OR Food Aid Expansion Bill Could Benefit Rural Immigrant Communities
Monday, May 22, 2023
Rural immigrant communities could benefit greatly from legislation known as Food for All Oregonians, anti-hunger groups say.
Senate Bill 610 would eliminate an exclusion for people who are undocumented from receiving federal food aid through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Hilda Leon is leadership coordinator for the Latino Community Association of Central Oregon in Madras and Redmond. She said food is expensive and there are few food pantries in the region.
"Especially here in the rural area, we have less access than larger cities," said Leon. "So I know that our community will benefit greatly because they're struggling."
Senate Bill 610 would extend aid to lawful permanent residents, U.S. Compacts of Free Association
citizens, and other Oregonians who arrived as immigrants or refugees.
After the state's latest revenue projections exceeded expectations by nearly $2 billion, anti-hunger advocates say Oregon has the resources to make sure no one goes hungry.
Leon said her personal experience as a single mother of four who struggled to feed her children also informs her push to get the Food for All Oregonians legislation passed.
"A lot of times I had to make a decision," said Leon, "either pay my power bill or go get groceries. So that is a personal experience that nobody needs to go through just because you have no immigration status."
Leon said it can be especially hard to find culturally appropriate food in rural areas for Latino communities.
"Food brings family together in family gatherings and so getting this law passed," said Leon, "it will be easy for our families to access our own food from our own country."
More than 62,000 Oregonians currently are excluded from food assistance.
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