- Northwest Asian Weekly | Commentary: Let’s raise our voices to protect our families | 12-02-2010
- Children feel pinch | The Spokesman-Review | 11-27-2010
- Hunger Up 36% in Washington State | Washington Free Press | 11-28-2010
In this edition, Northwest Asian Weekly publishes a commentary by Children’s Alliance Executive Director Paola Maranan urging people to take a stand for programs that sustain Washington’s most vulnerable families through the recession. Also, children experience poverty at higher-than-expected levels this holiday season, a program that helps young mothers embrace their new roles is facing cutbacks, and food advocates discuss how to best feed hungry children in America.
State lawmakers will come together in Olympia in January facing a $5.7 billion shortfall in the budget for the next two years. In response, they may hack away at the very programs that have kept families afloat during the worst recession of our lifetimes. We must continue to raise our voices to ensure that programs critical to the health of low-income immigrant and refugee families remain intact.
While the recession’s officially over, its protracted effects – joblessness, exhausted savings, loss of permanent housing – continue to wreak havoc on families that include children. These are the very people who can benefit from the annual Christmas Fund campaign, which aims to raise $500,000 from the community to pay for toys and grocery vouchers distributed to families in need through the Christmas Bureau… Of all the people living in poverty in the U.S. in 2009, 35.5 percent were children, the group said, while children account for about 25 percent of the total population. Nearly 21 percent of all children lived in poverty that year.
The number of Washington households that are food insecure, meaning they struggle to afford enough nutritious food, rose from 288,000 to 367,000 in 2009, a 27 percent increase over the prior year. The rise in households that are hungry was even more striking: 152,200 Washington households met the definition for hunger (called “very low food insecurity” in the report), up 40,200 or 36 percent.
It’s great that people at this time of year make donations to food emergency charities,” says FRAC president Jim Weill. “But that’s ultimately not going to solve the problem. What will solve the problem is a better food-stamp program, better school lunch programs and a more robust economy which shares the prosperity more with struggling families.” Hunger, says Weill, “existed unnecessarily before the recession and has gotten worse unnecessarily since the recession. As Congressman Jim McGovern says, hunger in America is a political condition. It’s not something that exists because of lack of food or lack of resources.”
Greg Devereux, executive director of the Washington Federation of State Employees, charged in a letter to Gov. Chris Gregoire last week that DSHS and its Children’s Administration is “circumventing” legislation passed in 2009 that requires a pilot project to evaluate how private contractors work with children taken from their homes because of abuse or neglect.