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Seventy-one community based organizations from across the state have joined together to call for full restoration of State Food Assistance for our children, elders, and families. They distributed this letter to state legislators on Friday, Feb. 7. It’s reproduced below, or available here in PDF form.
Dear Esteemed Washington State Legislators and Governor Inslee,
We are coming together once again from all around Washington State, from diverse communities, to call on you to restore State Food Assistance to equal benefit levels with Basic Food.
We appreciate the partial restoration of State Food Assistance that you passed in 2013, which increased benefits from 50 percent of Basic Food to 75 percent. The increase is helping families eat and meet their basic needs. However, the job is not done. Now we are asking you to finish the job and fully restore equal food benefits for families that count on State Food Assistance.
State Food Assistance (SFA) is Washington’s smart answer to hunger. For more than 15 years, Washington has strategically leveraged national resources to make sure that food stamps reach families during difficult times.
But now our food security network isn’t working like it should. The recession plunged more Washingtonians into food insecurity, and pushed more children into poverty. At the same time, Washington legislators slashed SFA benefits for thousands of children growing up in immigrant families, nearly all of whom are children of color. At a time when an estimated one in four Washington children lives in a food insecure household, the cut to SFA deepens racial and economic inequality.
The cut hurts vulnerable children and elders the most. Children make up half of the Washingtonians in households that receive State Food Assistance. Many are seniors. Singling out immigrant children and elders to suffer in hard times is simply not fair.
Our quality of life in Washington depends on our ability to make sure kids have what they need to grow up healthy and strong. No matter where you’re from, or what you look like, in America all of our children should have opportunities to learn and succeed so they can grow up and be the strong leaders, workers and parents our future depends on.
But hunger is a roadblock to opportunity. The ties between hunger, poor health and learning are well understood. If we continue to send children to school without the fuel they need for academic success, we continue to let the opportunity gap swallow up our future.
In our communities we see the impact of the cut. Cash-strapped families still have to skimp on the grocery items that build our kids’ bodies and minds and keep elders healthy. Visits to food banks can’t fill the holes left in family budgets by the cut, and food banks in many of our communities are overwhelmed by the rising need.
The economic recovery has not reached all families equally. Low-income families are not yet seeing significant improvements in income or wealth, and hunger continues at near-record levels. This legislative session we urge you to take a step toward restoring the integrity of our food security system, and restore State Food Assistance to equal benefits with Basic Food. It is a move in the right direction for Washington State.
Anti-Hunger and Nutrition Coalition (statewide)
API CHAYA (King County)
Asia Pacific Cultural Center (Puget Sound Region)
Asian Counseling and Referral Service (King County)
Asian Pacific Islander Coalition of Pierce County
Auburn Food Bank
Ballard Food Bank
Bothell Community Kitchen
Catholic Community Services of Western Washington
Casa Latina (King County)
Centerstone (King County)
Children’s Alliance (statewide)
Des Moines Area Food Bank
Entre Hermanos (King County)
Ethiopian Community Mutual Association (King County)
El Centro de la Raza (King County)
El Comité Pro-Reforma Migratoria y Justicia Social (King County, Pierce County)
Emergency Feeding Program of Seattle & King County
Faith Action Network (statewide)
First Congregational United Church of Christ, Vancouver, Washington
FISH Food Banks of Pierce County
Food Bank at St. Mary's (Seattle)
Food Lifeline (statewide)
Hopelink (North and East King County)
Hunger Intervention Program (Seattle)
International Community Health Services (King County)
Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle
Latino Education and Training Institute (Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish Counties)
Legal Voice (statewide)
Lifelong AIDS Alliance (King County)
Lourdes Salazar, President and Diana Lindner, MD, FAAP, of Eastside Latino Leadership Forum (East King County)
Maple Valley Food Bank
Michael Woo and Tammy Nguyen of Got Green (King County)
Minority Executive Directors Coalition of King County
Multi-Service Center - Federal Way
National Association of Social Workers - WA Chapter
Northwest Harvest (statewide)
Nutrition First (statewide)
Odyssey World International (Spokane)
Parents Organizing for Welfare & Economic Rights
Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane
Seattle Food Committee
Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness (SKCCH)
SEIU Healthcare 775NW
Senior Services (King County)
Solid Ground (King County)
South King County Food Coalition
Spokane Valley Partners
St. Leo Food Connection (Tacoma)
Statewide Poverty Action Network
Tacoma Community House
Tenino Food Bank
UFCW Local 21 (statewide)
Unite HERE Local 8 (statewide)
United Way King County
United Way of Snohomish County
University District Food Bank (Seattle)
Vashon Maury Community Food Bank
Washington Assoc. of Community Action Programs
Washington Community Action Network
Washington Food Coalition
Washington State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Washington State Catholic Conference
Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Washington State Farmers Market Association
Washington State Food and Nutrition Council
West Seattle Food Bank
White Center Community Development Association
White Center Food Bank
Within Reach (statewide)