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.

 

Expand Access to School Breakfast in High Need Schools:

Hungry kids face extra and unnecessary struggles in school. Most schools offer school breakfast, but it's not reaching those who need it most: WA ranks 45thof 50 states in serving breakfast to low-income students. School breakfast legislation will require very high needs schools to offer breakfast in the classroom, grab and go, and second chance breakfast to almost 175,000 low-income students and will clarify the use of instructional time so any schools can serve Breakfast After the Bell.

 

Restore the Promise of Local Farms, Healthy Kids Act for Our Kids, Schools and Farms:

Connecting farmers to local schools and markets makes Washington's kids and communities healthier and Washington's farms stronger. Creating WSDA's Farm to School and Small Farms/Direct Market Farms programs (now jointly called Regional Markets Program) was good for kids, for schools, and for our agriculture economy. Yet more than $750,000 in these programs was cut in the recession, limiting the programs' ability to serve kids, schools, and farmers and diminishing Washington's competitiveness for federal funds. Restore $500,000 to WSDA's Regional Markets program.

 

Equip School Kitchens to Improve Nutrition for Kids:

School nutrition staff are often ill-equipped to prepare and serve healthy food because schools don't have needed equipment for cooking from scratch. In 2015, the Legislature appropriated $5 million for kitchen equipment grants so schools could prepare fresh, healthy food for students. It's clear schools need this support: grant requests totaled $18 million. Extend Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools grants with another $5 million grant in the capital budget to support school efforts to cook healthier meals for kids.

 

Map Food Insecurity & Track Performance in Federal Nutrition Programs:

USDA issues an annual report on hunger across the country that falls short in helping us understand exactly where and who hunger is hitting in our communities in Washington. Including food security in the state's BRFSS survey will provide local hunger data disaggregated by geography, race/ethnicity, and household characteristics. In addition, state agencies that manage federal nutrition programs will report annually on how these programs are meeting national standards of participation, and summarize the actual and potential federal dollars that support our state and local communities with these nutrition programs. Together, this data will equip decision makers at all levels with information to improve programs and develop targeted strategies to better address hunger in our communities.

 

Fix Our State's Tax System to Preserve and Restore Critical Services

Our coalition continues to support a balanced approach to creating a sustainable state budget that includes new sources of revenue and that reform our tax system in order to protect, strengthen and restore services that help low-income families to meet their basic needs and help meet the state's constitutional duties.    

 

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. 

   

 
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