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Oregon Food Bank and Oregon Food Bank Network leaders issued a statement on Thursday, June 27, in response to donations from the rally in support of Oregon Senate Republican’s walk out.

The statement said while the donations were appreciated, they cannot close the $19.2 million gap in funding to fight food insecurity. Oregon Food Bank helps feed 260,000 people every month through a food distribution network of 21 regional food banks serving Oregon and Clark County, Washington.

“These programs give back to farmers who make large donations to the Oregon Food Bank Network, feed low-income parents and children across Oregon and provide a safety net of human services to be there when people need it most,” Oregon Food Bank CEO Susannah Morgan said.

“Donated food is always welcome, but it is only one piece of the solution. If the Oregon Legislature does not finish their job this month, critical anti-hunger services will go unfunded,” Oregon Food Bank Network Chairman Rick Gaupo said. “And, people and families who are food insecure could be the collateral consequences.”

A statement released by the Oregon Senate Republicans on Wednesday, June 26, noted the lack of votes necessary for Democrats to pass House Bill 2020, the carbon tax legislation the led to the walkout. Republicans disputed comments from Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, who said the walkout was a stand against democracy.

“We the Senate Republicans stand by our original request and demand that the House and Senate Democrats along with Governor Brown assure that any carbon bill must be referred to ballot, so the people of Oregon can make the final decision on this job killing and truly life altering bill,” the Senate Republicans’ statement said.

Senate Republicans also said Brown and the supermajority had been excessively rigid in their negotiations not only with rural Republican Senators, but even with some in their own part who represent rural districts.

If the Legislature does not reconvene, up to $19.2 million in programs to fight food insecurity may not be fully funded. The spending breakdown includes $10 million for the Farm to School program, $4.3 million for the Oregon Hunger Response Fund, $2.2 million for Senior meal programs, $1.5 million for the SNAP Double-Up Food Bucks Program, and $1.2 million for Farm Direct for WIC and Low-Income Seniors.

Additionally, three key tax credits benefiting farmers and low-income Oregonians are set to expire in 2019 unless the legislature renews them: the Crop Donation Tax Credit for Oregon farmers, who donate millions of pounds of fresh produce to the Oregon Food Bank Network; the Earned Income Tax Credit, which benefits families with children who are low-income; and the Agriculture Workforce Housing Tax Credit that provides farmers and investors a tax credit for building, acquiring or rehabilitating farm worker housing.

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