Over the past seven days we have been privileged to take part in some prominent events that highlight the needs of hungry children.
Leaders from the faith community, charitable organizations and community groups have joined us in calling on state leaders to fight childhood hunger by restoring State Food Assistance.
Last Tuesday, we released a community letter asking legislators to “restore the integrity of our food security system” by fairly funding the program, which was cut in half last summer. The cut took food off the tables of nearly 14,000 children.
Children's Alliance looking out for kids in Olympia battles | Seattle Times | 01-13-2012
Alliance staff spent this past summer gathering input from partner organizations, parents and others so that it could present a unified agenda. They want the Legislature to fight childhood hunger, invest in early learning, strengthen Apple Health for Kids, expand access to dental care and stop cuts and raise revenue. Gould intends to remind legislators of the many studies that show children learn better when they are well fed and healthy.
Note: Yesterday Children’s Alliance staff sent the following letter to Congress members representing Washington state.
Dear Members of the Washington State Congressional Delegation,
At the Children’s Alliance, we believe policies and programs at every level of government should work for kids. We also believe in a fair economy and sound investments. The best way to ensure we remain a strong nation ready to take on tomorrow's challenges is by investing in our children today.
We have the ingenuity and resources in this country to ensure all kids get a fair chance. Yet, continued cuts to smart investments threaten our future. Austerity measures disproportionately impact children color – the fastest growing population in the country – thus stifling our economic potential.
The dust stirred up by Election 2012 is starting to settle. We know who will be in the White House and representing Washington State in the 113th Congress.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Members of the 112th Congress still have some work to do.
Members of Congress are home for the summer, meeting with constituents, learning more about issues in their districts and preparing for the November election. They get back to D.C. in early September, just a few days after Washington’s school kids head to the classroom.
Then, Congress will resume the debate about our national priorities – a debate that very directly concerns every Washington child who’s entering a classroom for the first time.
The first five years of life have a deep and durable influence on the rest – they’re the time when the fundamental architecture of the mind is built. Our public resources for the very young– from Early Head Start to Head Start to child care funds – affect children’s ability to spend their early years in enriching environments that serve them well in school and in life.
A wealth of data shows that these programs close the opportunity gap. Parents have seen that they work. Many lawmakers know that without them, we’ll neither lower spending nor create broadly shared prosperity. And yet they’re under threat.
Ask these five questions for candidates running for state offices (state legislators and governor). Please scroll to see reverse side for questions for candidates running for Congress.
Times continue to be tough for thousands of Washington families. Long-term unemployment is still rising, and now, more than 10,000 Washington workers have come to the end of their unemployment benefits. One in eight children in our state live in households where someone is experiencing unemployment.
Yet Congress is breezing through a series of budget bills, and the 2012 Farm Bill as though the future of our kids and our nation's ability to feed them were not at stake. They are wrong.
One in four Washington children struggle against hunger. In these families meals are skipped, food is rationed, cheaper but less healthy food is purchased, and choices are made between food, rent, medicine and the gas needed to get to work. These families face the dilemma of “heat or eat” every day.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the nation’s number-one defense against hunger. And it’s shaped by the Farm Bill, a piece of legislation renewed every five years by Congress, and up for consideration in the Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday.
Much of the Farm Bill debate centers on farm subsidies. Wealthy, vested interests are sure to weigh in. But with more than 1 million Washingtonians participating in Basic Food (our name for the program here in Washington), we need to make sure the voices of hungry families are heard.
At 6:15 a.m. on Wednesday, legislators passed a final state budget that will affect Washington’s kids for years to come.
Thanks to an extraordinary push from parents, children, and advocates across the state, we protected kids in the budget on a few major issues, and even made progress for them.