Partners of the Plan News:
Protecting Anti-Hunger Programs

Shopping for foodDuring the 2012 legislative session, Partners from all over the state banded together to protect anti-hunger programs threatened by budget cuts. For groups like the Anti-Hunger and Nutrition Coalition, a legislative advocacy organization, work centered on preventing cuts or the elimination of four key programs, some of which had their budgets cut the previous year.

  • The State Food Assistance Program provides SNAP benefits (food stamps) to documented immigrants that don't qualify for federal benefits.
  • The federally matched Farmers Market Nutrition Program for WIC and seniors provides vouchers for eligible people to redeem at farmers markets.
  • State funds for school meals includes a small reimbursement for school breakfast as well as the elimination of the co-pay for families making between 130% and 185% of the poverty level.
  • The Emergency Food Assistance Program provides funding to local food banks that can be used for operating costs, including transportation. This program also funds the Tribal Food Voucher Program, which is used by almost every tribe in Washington State.

“We spent much of the session protecting the status quo. Hungry kids and families in Washington couldn't afford to lose what little support they had left,” says Nadiya Beckwith, steering committee member for AHNC and Food Policy Associate with the Children’s Alliance. “We were able to move legislators and shape the conversation but we were unable to get the 50% cut to the State Food Assistance Program restored.”

In a year with so many threats to the budget, anti-hunger advocates were forced to set aside proactive policy interventions. Beckwith admits, “Our advocacy efforts were put into protecting the investment we had previously made in years past. We had to think about how to recover from previous cuts and still maintain the structure of the programs.”

Beckwith shared one success story: anti-hunger advocates were able to protect the State Food Assistance Program from deeper cuts for over 14,000 people. Many immigrants from Marshall Islands in the Pacific—once the location of US nuclear weapons tests in the 1940s and ‘50s—have relocated to Washington State without visas under a 1986 agreement. As a result of the nuclear testing many face lingering health issues and need food assistance. Beckwith felt encouraged that grassroots advocacy by members of the Marshallese community and other advocates left state legislators with a more nuanced understanding of the wide range of food assistance needs in the state.


Partners

Plan Objectives Addressed

Target Audience

Food Assistance Agencies, Non-Profits, Farmers

Region

Statewide

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