By Aaron Czyzewski
Director, Advocacy & Public Policy
Each year, Food Lifeline sets out to work with legislative champions in Olympia and Washington DC on policies to solve hunger problems, protect successful safety net programs, and secure new investments for hunger relief efforts. We are happy to report progress in all these areas during the 2023 Washington State Session.
Importantly, Food Lifeline recognizes our advocates and supporters, including partners that helped make this body of work possible: Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition, Balance Our Tax Code Coalition, Faith Action Network, Feeding Washington, Northwest Harvest, Racial Equity Team, Second Harvest, Senior Citizens Lobby, Statewide Poverty Action Network, United Way of King County, Washington Anti-Poverty Advocates, Washington Food Coalition, Washington Coalition for Police Accountability, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Washington Student Association, Working Families Tax Credit Coalition, and the Food Fighters Legislative Caucus.
The 2023 Washington State Legislature took measured steps to expand free school meals to more than 90,000 students and continue investments in hunger relief by funding nutrition programs with the Washington State Department of Agriculture. Additionally, a special supplemental budget request was passed to provide $28 million for emergency food purchases, senior meals, and fruit & vegetable incentives. Noteworthy is the support we have from first term lawmakers and the growing caucus of state representatives, known as the “Food Fighters,” who champion issues in support of hunger relief in Washington.
Importantly, the legislature directed significant funding for affordable housing and homelessness. To a lesser extent, poverty reduction and much needed community investment. The need remains prominent for progressive revenue and tax code reform that creates the racial and economic justice necessary to end hunger.
Equity & Social Justice
Food Lifeline Platform: Food Lifeline will consider policy measures which focus on racial equity & social justice for vulnerable and low-income children, adults, and seniors, with emphasis on families of color, immigrant, and under-resourced communities.
- Voting Rights Act—SUPPORT legislation to ensure that voters of race, color, and language minority groups have equitable access to fully participate in the electoral process in registering to vote and voting free from improper dilution or abridgement of voting power.
Outcome: WIN. HB 1048, Rep Scarlett Mena | Bipartisan vote? No
- Traffic Safety for All—SUPPORT to end traffic stops for nonmoving violations and provide grants that help people comply with the law and avoid low-level violations.
Outcome: LOSS. HB 1513, Rep Chipalo Street | Bipartisan vote? No
- Access to Fairness Act (Civil Right of Action)—SUPPORT legislation authorizing redress at the state level when law enforcement commits constitutional rights violations.
Outcome: LOSS. HB 1025, Rep My-Linh Thai | Bipartisan vote? No
- Nothing About Us Without Us Act—SUPPORT legislation to require representation of lived and living experience on task forces, workgroups, and advisory committees that report to the Legislature on issues affecting underrepresented populations.
Outcome: LOSS. HB 1541, Rep Darya Farivar | Bipartisan vote? Yes (House vote only)
- Patterns and Practice Authority—SUPPORT legislation to empower the Attorney General’s Office to investigate and act on patterns and practices of misconduct at law enforcement agencies.
Outcome: LOSS. HB 1445, Rep Drew Hansen | Bipartisan vote? No
- Independent Prosecutor for Police Use of Deadly Force—SUPPORT legislation creating a state office to work with the Office of Independent Investigations for fair, credible, and transparent prosecutions.
Outcome: LOSS. HB 1579, Rep Monica Stonier | Bipartisan vote? No
Food Lifeline Platform: Food Lifeline will consider policy measures that end conditions of poverty, especially concerning household stability, affordable housing, living wage employment, and related essential needs.
- Guaranteed Basic Income—ACTIVELY SUPPORT legislation creating a pilot program for direct cash assistance to help Washington residents struggling under unprecedented income inequalities.
Outcome: LOSS. HB 1045, Rep Liz Berry | Bipartisan vote? No
- TANF—SUPPORT measures to improve access and strengthen TANF program benefits.
Outcome: WIN. HB 1447, Rep Strom Peterson | Bipartisan vote? No
- State Housing Trust Fund & Rental Assistance—SUPPORT measures to increase affordable housing and assistance for renters at risk of eviction.
Outcome (Funding): WIN. SB 5200, Capital budget | Bipartisan vote? Yes | $525.5M
Outcome (Policy): WIN. HB 1260, Rep Emily Alvarado | Bipartisan vote? Yes
Outcome (Policy): WIN. HB 1474, Rep Jamila Taylor | Bipartisan vote? No
Outcome (Funding): WIN. SB 5187, Operating budget | Bipartisan vote? No
Includes: 8% increase in the Aged, Blind and Disabled cash grant, permanent ongoing increase of $26.5 million for the Housing and Essential Needs rental assistance program, ongoing homeless services increase of 6.5%, which is a $45 million investment in WA frontline provider workforce, $5 million for eviction prevention and increased funding for tenant’s right to counsel.
Food Lifeline Platform: Food Lifeline will consider measures that improve food justice, food systems resiliency, and operational capacity for hunger relief.
- Statewide Hunger Relief—ACTIVELY SUPPORT WSDA’s full $115M funding request for We Feed WA fresh local produce boxes and bulk produce, food bank capacity grants, and market access grants for Washington farms, food processors and distributors.
Outcome: PARTIAL WIN. SB 5187, Operating budget, WSDA budget request | $35M (biennium)
- Community Food Hubs—SUPPORT measures to direct funding to shared regional facilities for community agencies and local growers to aggregate/store/process food intended for hunger relief, local school systems and other markets.
Outcome: WIN. SB 5200, Capital Budget| $499K for South Seattle Community Food Hub
- Emergency Food Funding—ACTIVELY SUPPORT measures to secure funding for emergency food purchases need during times of elevate food insecurity.
Outcome: WIN. HB 1784, Rep Mia Gregerson | Bipartisan vote? Yes | $28M (one-time)
- Use Food Well Washington—SUPPORT measures to implement the UFWW Plan recommendations to meet Washington’s 2030 food waste reduction goals and a more resilient food system.
Outcome: Not addressed this session.
- Emergency Food Assistance Program – Funding—ACTIVELY SUPPORT measures to secure funding for food & operational expenses at local food pantries and food bank distribution centers.
Outcome: WIN. SB 5187, Operating budget| Bipartisan vote? No | $30M (biennium)
- Emergency Food Assistance Program – Policy—SUPPORT measures to raise the percentage of program funding eligible for non-food purchases, like diapers and hygienic products, from 10 to 25 percent.
Outcome: WIN. HB 1499, Rep Clyde Shavers | Bipartisan vote? Yes
Hunger, Health, and Wellbeing
Food Lifeline Platform: Food Lifeline will consider measures that positively impact the health of people experiencing hunger in community, educational, work, and healthcare settings.
- Washington Commodities Donation—SUPPORT measures to help fund large-scale procurement of donated Washington commodities for hunger relief efforts statewide.
Outcome: N/A | Issue addressed with We Feed WA listed above
- Fruit & Vegetable Incentives—SUPPORT increasing state funding to help families on limited budgets afford more fruits and vegetables through DOH’s SNAP Produce Match, SNAP Market Match, and Fruit and Vegetable Prescriptions (Rx) programs.
Outcome: WIN. SB 5187, Operating budget | Bipartisan vote? No | $6M (one-time increase)
Food Lifeline Platform: Food Lifeline will prioritize measures that seek to fund and improve equity, access, adequacy, and participation across state and federal nutrition assistance resources.
- School Meals—ACTIVELY SUPPORT measures to expand access to school meals at no student cost (Universal School Meals) and improve access and availability of related school nutrition programs.
Outcome: WIN. HB 1238, Rep Marcus Riccelli, Sen T’wina Nobles | Bipartisan vote? Yes | $23M
- Community Eligibility Provision—ACTIVELY SUPPORT measures to expand access to school meals at no student cost (Universal School Meals) and improve access and availability of related school nutrition programs.
Outcome: WIN. SB 5187, Operating budget | $59M (one-time, for CEP uptake)
- Hunger Free Campus Designation—SUPPORT legislation to establish criteria for colleges to meet when addressing students’ food insecurity and their access to public benefits.
Outcome: WIN. HB 1559, Rep Debra Entenman | Bipartisan vote? No
- Military Family Hunger—SUPPORT measures to improve food security among veteran and military households.
Outcome: WIN. HB 1009, Military Spouse Employment, Rep Mari Leavitt | Bipartisan vote? Yes
Outcome: WIN. HB 1346, Purple Star Award, Rep Clyde Shavers| Bipartisan vote? Yes
Food Lifeline Platform: Food Lifeline will consider measures that promote equity and fairness in Washington’s tax code and create more opportunity for community investment.
- Working Families Tax Credit—ACTIVELY SUPPORT improvements and expansion of Washington’s tax credit program for households with low and moderate incomes.
Outcome: WIN. HB 1477, Rep My-Linh Thai | Bipartisan vote? Yes
- Wealth Tax—SUPPORT measures to rebalance Washington’s regressive tax code while providing more revenue for community investments by enacting a 1% levy on wealth held in financial assets, such as stocks and bonds for individuals worth over $1 billion.
Outcome: LOSS. SB 5486, Sen Noel Frame | Bipartisan vote? No
- Nonprofits—Monitor legislation impacting tax or regulatory environments for nonprofits.
Total Appropriations: ~$776,499,000
For more information:
Aaron Czyzewski, Director, Advocacy & Public Policy | firstname.lastname@example.org
Katrina Johnson, Advocacy Campaigns | email@example.com
Alicya Pearson, Community Action Organizer | firstname.lastname@example.org