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.
During the long stretch of budget negotiations in Olympia -- from late November 2011 to mid-April of this year -- parents, aunties, and community leaders acted to protect kids in the state budget. Their work ensured that lawmakers preserved vital programs and investments for kids, rejected unfair cuts that threatened children’s futures, and adopted new solutions that were better for Washington children and families.
A recently released report reveals that a new kind of health care provider, like the one proposed in the state Legislature last session, can effectively serve children and families who have a hard time getting affordable dental care.
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 the Children’s Alliance we strive to protect children from the lethal effects of racism and inequality through advocacy: by working to change laws and policies so they create a better environment for all children.
As the close of the legislative session made clear, advocacy can work wonders. Yet it can’t intervene in a potentially fatal interaction between two individuals. When one of those interactions comes to pass, as it did for 17-year-old Trayvon Martin Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., there is good reason for outrage.
And, amid our outrage, there are reasons to act.