Advocacy

Advocacy

"Food Security is a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life."  - 1996 World Food Summit (U.N.)

The Washington Food Coalition follows current events that may affect nutrition programs that our members utilize to serve their communities. We also pay close attention to the many related programs that serve the families we serve every day. Many of these programs work in tandem with our efforts to support people through a hard time and hopefully into a better place. 

For more information about nutrition programs, our legislative agenda, and the latest happenings and actions you can take, check out our latest updates, what we are watching, and follow us on Facebook or twitter.

See more on our Advocacy Page

Quick Links:

Advocacy Updates and Action (at the State and Federal Front)

2018 State Legislative Agenda

What we are Watching at the Federal Level

 

 

What We Are Watching: Federal Advocacy

2018 Farm Bill:
The Farm Bill is a huge complex piece of legislation that is reauthorized and passed approximately every 5 years. This bill brings together farm industry interests, conservation interests, human services interests, and really nearly any stakeholder that has an interest in our food system.
The Farm Bill expires September 30, 2018. This is legislation that needs to be reauthorized every 5 years. It is a very complex piece of legislation that brings together many interests and stakeholders working within our food system.

The Farm Bill is organized into 12 Titles or sections.
We as anti-hunger advocates tend to be most interested in the Nutrition Title (Title IV). This is the section of the Farm Bill that governs programs that Americans rely on to feed their families through tough times. 
This year, in 2018, we are All Hands on Deck to fight any cuts or structural changes to SNAP (the federal food stamp program).

There are pending proposals for drastic cuts and changes to SNAP that will hurt people in our communities who need this help the most.
For some resources on the value of SNAP to people that need it, to our local economies and our communities, see these resources from our partners at FRAC:
Governor Inslee released this letter to our Washington State Congressional Delegation regarding H.R. 2 voicing concerns and opposition to the current bill in the House. To read the full letter, click here.
And here is a recent Op-Ed from our former Board Chair Helen McGovern-Pilant from EFN: Click here to read the full article in The News Tribune.

What you can Do:
Contact your Congressional Representatives...they need to hear from YOU, their constituents, about your priorities and concerns.

What we would like to see: a real effort to strengthen SNAP by increasing the benefit rate based on the "low cost" food plan as opposed to the "thrifty" food plan as described by USDA, among other things. This would increase the ability of food stamp recipients to purchase healthier food. A great example of what strengthening SNAP and its positive impacts could look like is contained in HR1276 Closing the Meal Gap Act, a marker bill that you can urge (or thank) your lawmakers for signing in support of.
 

Advocacy Updates and Actions You Can Take

Quick Links to: State Actions

Quick Links to: Federal Actions

 

WA 2018 Legislative Session:

Legislative Session began January 8th 2018 and ended March 8th 2018:

 

And….It’s a Wrap!
What an incredible 2018 State Legislative Session!
There is so much to celebrate this year as the session ended on Thursday March 8th.
Bills we were watching and supporting that passed:
HB1508: Breakfast After the Bell
HB 2610: Hunger-Free Student’s Bill of Rights bans stigmatization of kids with outstanding school lunch bills and strives to instead connect students and families to free and reduced priced lunch programs.
HB1570: Housing and Homelessness support via document recording fee. This bill eliminated the sunset of the current rate of this fee, and increased the fee to $60 from $50. This is the single largest source of funding for housing and homelessness prevention in the state.
HB2578: Bans source of income discrimination on the part of landlords screening potential tenants.
HB 1831: Raised asset limits under TANF. Vehicle asset limits are raised to $10,000 and additional assets limits increased to $6000 for folks applying for TANF
HB1298: The Fair Chance Act bans the box on employment applications that asks if the candidate has ever had a conviction.
For more to celebrate on housing issues from this session, check out our friends at WA Low Income Housing Alliance, here.
Some items to keep an eye on for next year:
Food Waste Reduction Bill
Elimination of school lunch reduced-price co-pays

 

Week5 (Feb 5th-Feb11th):

With Hunger Action Day and the first cut off deadline this week it has been busy! 
Hunger Action Day brought 120+ anti-hunger advocates to the capitol to celebrate the long awaited passing of Breakfast After the Bell, and speak out about a whole range of additional issues. Some of these included:
  • Eliminating reduced price lunch co-pays
  • Anti-shaming legislation for overdue school lunch accounts
  • Funding for housing and homelessness through document recording fees
  • Banning source of income discrimination by landlords
  • Increasing asset limits for folks applying for TANF
Following this great start to the week, we saw many of the bills we have been watching successfully pass out of their house of origin!

ESHB1570 Concerning Housing and Homelessness - passed out of the House on 2/7, and has now been referred to the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee
HB2578 seeks to ban landlords from discriminating based on source of income - passed out of the House 2/9, and has now been referred to the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance.
HB1298 the Fair Chance Act eliminates the use of convictions as a first filter in screening job applicants - passed the House 2/7, and has now been referred to the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee.
HB1831 concerns asset limits for applicants seeking assistance through TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) - passed out of the House 2/7, and has been referred to the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee.
HB2610 is a Hunger Free Students' bill of rights act is an anti-shaming bill that would protect kids whose lunch meal accounts are behind in payment from being called out in any way - this passed out of House Appropriations on 2/6.

Week4 (Jan29-Feb4th):

This is turning into a week to celebrate! After 5 years of tireless advocacy, Breakfast After the Bell legislation has passed! This will ensure that high need schools make breakfast more readily available to students by offering breakfast after the school day has officially started. HB1508, the vehicle through which this has now passed both houses, also increases provisions for another beloved program, Farm to School/Small Farms Direct Marketing. We couldn't be more thrilled for this victory!

HB1508 Kids Ready to Learn passed out of the Senate 43-5 on Jan 31st.

Of interest may also be HB2411 regarding Food Waste Reduction to fight hunger and environmental impact. This bill looks to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030, based on 2017 levels of estimated food waste in WA. The ties between food waste and environmental impact have been of growing interest to our coalition members, and growing partnerships have been occurring between local county waste management offices and hunger relief agencies to this end. HB2411 was passed out of the House Committee on the Environment on Jan 30th.

Week3 (Jan22-28th):

HB1508 Kids Ready to Learn  had a public hearing on  Wednesday Jan 24th, and was passed out of the Senate Ways and Means Jan 25th.

HB2712 which would eliminate lunch co-pays for children from kindergarten through 12th grade who qualify for reduced price school meals had a hearing on Wednesday Jan 24th in the House Appropriations Committee.

SB6003 Breakfast After the Bell was referred to the House Education Committee on Jan 23rd.

ESHB1570 Concerning Housing and Homelessness, was passed out of the House Appropriations Committee on Jan 22nd.

Week 2 (Jan15-21st):

We had a great start to session last week with HB1508 Kids Ready to Learn passing out of the House, and a hearing on SB6003 Breakfast After the Bell

HB1508 Kids Ready to Learn has now been referred to Senate Committee on Ways and Means. The next scheduled hearing on this bill is currently set to be January 24th at 3:30pm in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. For more info on this bill, or to see fiscal notes, history and amendments, click here.

SB6003 Breakfast After the Bell has passed out of the Senate Committee on Early Learning and K-12 Education, was passed to the Rules Committee, and is now ready to be scheduled for a second reading on the Senate floor. For more info on this bill, click here.

This week there is a lot happening around Housing and Homelessness with several hearings on housing related bills.

One bill that we were following a bit last year is back: ESHB1570 - concerning document recording fees, which provide the largest source of funding for homelessness programs in the state. This bill would increase document recording fees and eliminate the sunset clause for the increased fee. Hearing - Jan 17th, 3:30 in the House Appropriations Committee

If you want to weigh in on housing and homelessness issues, the folks at Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (WLIHA) are coordinating sign in support. If you want to support their legislative agenda in full, you can review and sign yourself and/or your organization to their 2018 legislative agenda here.

 

Week 1 (Jan 8-14th): 

There are two bills that are on the table currently that include Breakfast After the Bell (HB 1508 and SB 6003). HB 1508 has been carried over from the 2017 legislative session and includes funding for Farm to School/Small Farm Direct Marketing. 

House Bill 1508 Kids Ready to Learn will be on the House floor for a vote Wed Jan 10th. 

A few things that you can attend, watch or weigh in on this week:

House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee: Work Session presentation on - Farmers markets, farm direct marketing, and farm viability - Wednesday Jan 10th, 8am - House Hearing Rm B, John L O'Brien bldg, Olympia.

Senate Early Learning and k-12 Education Committee: Public Hearing on SB 6003 - Thursday Jan 11th, 1:30pm, Senate Hearing Rm 1, Cherberg bldg, Olympia.

If you wish you weigh in or be signed in support of this Breakfast After the Bell bill, for this hearing, contact Lauren McGowen (LMcGowen@uwkc.org) by noon on Thursday the 11th of January. 

This hearing will also be publicized via TVW (https://www.tvw.org/)

 

On the Federal Front:

 

For some resources on the value of SNAP to people that need it, to our local economies and our communities, see these resources from our partners at FRAC:
 
What you can Do:
Congress is home on recess right now…This is a great time for them to hear from you, their constituents speaking up for the communities they are elected to represent.
What we would like to see: a real effort to strengthen SNAP by increasing the benefit rate based on the "low cost" food plan as opposed to the "thrifty" food plan as described by USDA, among other things. This would increase the ability of food stamp recipients to purchase healthier food. A great example of what strengthening SNAP and its positive impacts could look like is contained in HR1276 Closing the Meal Gap Act, a marker bill that you can urge (or thank) your lawmakers for signing in support of.

 

 

 

 

What We Are Watching: 2018 State Legislative Session  

Expand Access to School Breakfast for Hungry Kids:

Hungry kids face extra and unnecessary struggles in school - yet feeding kids a healthy school breakfast can have a dramatic impact on their academic, health and economic futures.
Our schools are offering breakfast - but they are not reaching the kids who need it most: WA ranks 45th among states in serving breakfast to low income students.
We know how to fix it: when breakfast is part of the school day - just like lunch - more kids start their day with the fuel they need. Requiring very high poverty schools (70% or more low income students) to change their breakfast service time will help tens of thousands of students at nearly 400 schools. And clarifying instructional time for breakfast means any school can choose to serve breakfast after the bell.

 

Make Our Kids and Communities Healthier by Strengthening Washington's Farms:

Connecting farmers to local schools and other local buyers makes Washington's kids and communities healthier and makes Washington's farms more successful.
WSDA (Washington State Department of Agriculture) created its nationally recognized Farm to School Program (working in tandem with the Small Farms Direct Marketing Program) to provide a valuable resource for our agriculture sector, while also improving school meal quality for students. Restoring $250,000 to WSDA's programs will allow WSDA to meet increasing demand from farmers for the program's expertise and support in expanding farm businesses to new markets, especially schools.

 

Equip School Kitchens to Improve Nutrition for Kids:

School nutrition staff are often unable to prepare and serve healthier food because schools do not have needed equipment for cooking/preparing food from scratch.
Apple A Day kitchen equipment grants support school efforts to cook healthier meals for kids. Maintaining $1 million in the capital budget allows schools to prepare fresh, healthy food for students and sustains a smart investment in our schools and in our children's nutrition.

Additional Anti-Poverty issues we are keeping an eye on:

Fix Our Tax System to Create a Healthy, Prosperous, Hunger-free Washington:

We continue to have the most regressive tax system in the country, which means low income people wind up paying the highest share of their income in state taxes through the sales tax and property tax as passed on by landlords into higher rents. Closing outdated tax loopholes, increasing transparency in tax breaks, and finding new and sustainable sources of revenue are all strategies needed to respond to our growing population and to invest in the basics - food, housing, schools, and health care - that benefit all Washingtonians, especially those who need it most.

 

Strengthen TANF program for Low Income Families with Children:

Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) provides cash assistance and an array of work support services to low income families with children designed to promote family economic stability. There are three key strategies that are being advocated for to strengthen our state's TANF program:
  • Restore the TANF grant cuts so that low income families have more money to meet basic needs.
  • Raise the limits on vehicles and assets so that families can benefit from TANF with resources to help them after TANF ends.
  • Reduce barriers for pregnant and parenting teens to TANF can help end intergenerational poverty.

 

Protect Access to Affordable Housing for Low Income People:

Food insecurity and housing insecurity are tightly linked. One way to fight hunger is to ensure people have adequate, affordable housing. These are some of the key priorities this year in housing and homeless prevention:
  • Pass a capital budget: Protect and expand funds for programs that meet diverse housing needs.
  • Strengthen homelessness funding: Eliminate the sunset date and increase the amount for document recording fees - the largest source of funding for homelessness services. Now is the time for more reliable resources to address the housing crisis facing every county in WA.
  • Ban source of income discrimination: Prevent landlords from excluding renters with Social Security income, disability income, Housing Choice (section 8) vouchers, veteran's housing subsidies, etc. This discrimination has a significant impact on populations who rely on housing subsidies to make ends meet - they are the same people at highest risk for hunger.

 

Improve Access to Jobs with the Fair Chance Act:

 " Ban the Box" that asks about convictions in the very first step of applying for a job, so a person can be assessed on their qualifications and skills first. This policy boosts employment and reduces recidivism, saving the state money in both prisons and social services.

Our Ongoing Commitment:

Protect Investments in Nutrition, Health, and Economic Stability for People in Need:

Our state has created innovative programs and proactive policies that help fight hunger and poverty in our communities. As lawmakers act to improve education, mental health services and more, it is critical to protect funding for basic needs services such as Emergency Food Assistance Program, State Food Assistance, Farmers Market Nutrition Programs, affordable housing, HENS/ABD and other programs for low-income people so these programs remain effective in fighting hunger and poverty. 

   

 

What We Are Watching in the 2017 Legislative Session

Currently we are in the midst of Washington State's legislative session that will set a budget and priorities for the 2017-2019 biennium.

Legislative priorities for us this year have been developed in partnership with the Anti-Hunger and Nutrition Coalition.

Read more...
 


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