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

 

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: Federal Advocacy

Tax Reform is at the top of conversations and advocacy actions right now.

The House passed its proposed tax bill, largely along party lines. The Senate followed suit and passed its version. Now they are working to conference the two bills into something that will pass both houses and land on the President’s desk for a signature, preferably before Christmas, by all accounts.

By all indications, the proposed tax reform bills will be adding significantly to the national deficit, to the tune of over $1 Trillion. There is this idea that the economy will be boosted by giving corporations a significant permanent reduction in their tax rate, through the theory of trickle-down economics. Looking at how similar strategies have played out historically, we can expect that this will not work to boost the economy. What is more, our economy is and has been growing at a respectable rate, corporate profits are at all-time highs, and yet, low and middle income Americans are not seeing these profits trickle down into better income rates that adequately cover all the bills each month. The primary winners of the tax reform bill as per analysis reports are, overwhelmingly, the already wealthy.

What is more, there are a slew of harmful amendments and provisions tucked inside the tax reform bill. 

But there is even more to talk about as far as the projected follow up actions and outcomes. Lawmakers are already talking about coming after and cutting essential safety net programs to help pay for this enormous deficit. At risk are Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP and much more. By some accounts, Social Security isn’t even safe. The language that is being used so far is “Welfare Reform”.

As we know all too well, most Americans are living a paycheck away from crisis. All indications are that many people will ultimately be stretched even thinner as the tax bill plays out over several years, while Corporations and the very wealthy will see a remarkable reduction in their tax bill.

2018 Farm Bill:

Predictions are that talks will begin in earnest early in 2018 to put together a 2018 Farm Bill.

Agriculture interests so far are pushing for an "intact" Farm Bill (one that does not try to separate out the nutrition title from the rest of the bill). 

Still, we are anticipating some serious fights in regards to SNAP (food stamps). Some potential things we could see are proposals that would restructure SNAP (block grant), create more barriers and less help through increased work requirements or other onerous provisions, and all out direct efforts to cut funding to the program. 

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. This would increase the ability of food stamp recipients to purchase healthier food. 

 

Advocacy Updates and Actions You Can Take

Hunger Action Day:

Join us for a day of action and shining a light on hunger in our state's capital! Monday February 5th, starts at 8:30am in the Columbia Rm of the Legislative Building. For more info and to register, click here.

 

WA 2018 Legislative Session:

Legislative Session began January 8th 2018:

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:

National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference:

This is a jam packed 3 days in the other Washington where we learn from partners across the country and have the opportunity to visit with our Washington State Congressional Representatives and Senators to let them know what is happening in their districts back home in regards to hunger and poverty. February 25-27th, Washington D.C. For more info...click here.

 

 

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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