396,000 Washington families now struggle every day to put food on the table.
Families face increasingly tough challenges to make ends meet and put food on the table. Over the past three years, the number of hungry families grew by 85% across Washington. Now when it is needed more than ever, our coalition supports a balanced approach to the state budget that restores and protects our state’s hunger relief system so we can ensure our neighbors can meet their most basic need: food.
2015 Legislative Priorities
Restore full funding for the State Food Assistance Program (SFA)
Food stamps are the number one defense against hunger. For 11,000 legally residing immigrant families, however, their State Food Assistance benefits equal only 75% of the food stamp benefits others receive. WA created the State food Assistance program because of the strong positive impact immigrants have made on our communities – we know that when times are tough, anyone may need help feeding heir children. That’s what the food stamp safety net is for. State budget cuts in 2011 slashed State Food Assistance benefits; they were partially restored in 2013. Restore to 100% in the 2015-17 budget to insure all Washington kids have the nutrition they need to succeed.
Preserve funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP)
According to WA Dept. of Agriculture, 1 in 5 Washingtonians rely on food banks to feed themselves and their families. Despite the sluggish economic recovery, food banks are serving more clients since before the recession. Maintaining last year’s funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) will provide much needed relief to food banks to make purchases of food, including protein and fresh produce. These are items that are, high in need for hungry families. Preserve 2014 funding levels for food banks in 2015-17 budget.
Preserve Funding for Farmers Market Nutrition Programs for WIC families
The WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) offers vouchers that help some of Washington’s most vulnerable families purchase fresh, and nutritious produce at farmers markets. FMNP makes produce more affordable and accessible to low income moms and young children who are most in need of healthy nutrition – while helping local farmers earn a living wage. It’s a win-win bargain, helping to sustain small farms while ensuring healthy food and development for young, low income families. After sustaining significant cuts, the program is only serving 20-25% of eligible families. Preserve 2014 funding levels for the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
Expand Access to School Breakfast in High Need Schools
The Legislature is challenged in 2015 to fully fund education so Washington kids have the opportunity to succeed. However, some kids miss out on this opportunity for a simple reason: they are hungry and all they can think about is food. Most schools offer school breakfast, yet only 44% of low income students who eat lunch also receive a nutritious breakfast. WA is 41st out of 50 states in connecting kids to breakfast. School breakfast legislation will require very high poverty schools to offer Breakfast After the Bell: in the classroom, on the go, and second chance service. 403 schools (enrollment of 175,000 students) will reach many more students with breakfast in the 2016-17 school year. Learn more at http://schoolbreakfastwa.org
Fix our State’s Tax System – New Revenue to Preserve and Restore Services
Our coalition continues to support efforts to reform our state’s regressive tax system. We support the closure of outdated tax expenditures, increased transparency in the creation of and renewal of tax expenditures, and finding new and sustainable sources of revenue in order to protect, strengthen and restore key nutrition programs and other services that help low-income families in Washington meet their basic needs
2015 Legislative Issues We Support:
Restore the 15% TANF Cut from 2011 and help our Poorest Families
TANF provides minimal cash assistance to children and their families, and it was cut in the recession. Restoring this cut would raise the grant for a family of 3 from $478 to $562 per month, providing critical resources to our poorest families. The grant is used to help pay for families’ basic survival needs: rent, utilities, clothing, health and food.
$100 million to the Housing Trust Fund
The capital investment will fund rental homes that will remain affordable for at least 40 years and will help low income households become first-time homeowners. The majority of state investments in affordable homes assist people who are extremely low income and are otherwise unable to afford housing. The direct connection between housing insecurity and food insecurity means providing affordable, stable housing allows families to afford a healthier diet.
Protect Washington’s Lifeline for Disabled and Elderly Adults
Maintain funding levels for the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) Program; the Aged, Disabled and Blind (ABD) Program, and SSI facilitation services. Over 200,000 people love with disabilities and low incomes in our state; many struggle to put food on the table and keep their homes. Some have children who rely on their stable job. Unfortunately for thousands of WA families and individuals, a disability can often lead to homelessness and hunger. HEN and ABD programs provide a lifeline of support – a last resort safety net for people unable to work and at extreme risk of hunger and homelessness. Preserve current funding levels for these essential programs.
Fund Apple A Day Grants: Provide Funds to Schools to Prepare and Serve Healthy Food
Apple a Day funding in the capital budget would provide grants to schools buy equipment and train school nutrition staff in order to prepare more meals from scratch and serve healthier meals to students. Additionally, this bill would ensure new school construction takes into account planning for cooking and preparing healthy school meals.
To read about our past Legislative Agendas, Click Here.