Each year Food Lifeline works with volunteers, partners, and legislative champions to advance important hunger relief priorities during Washington’s state legislative session. Issues range from appropriations for food assistance and other basic needs programs, to school meals and policies that can help people access job training.
Hunger News and Trends
We know the quantity and variety of items available to order through Food Lifeline has been more limited recently. Reasons for this include driver shortages (a nation-wide trend), less excess food from the manufacturing industry, and seasonal trends in produce. To address this as quickly as possible, we have prioritized our staff time to dedicate significant hours on the road every week to build relationships with new, existing, and lapsed food donors.
What’s Happening in Olympia?
Hunger Action Day was Monday, Feb. 5 - hunger relief advocates from across the state convened in Olympia to meet with legislators, hear from legislative champions, and celebrate the pending passage of the Breakfast After the Bell bill. Every single state lawmaker received a visit on Monday from hunger advocates, including Food Lifeline staff.
The cause of hunger comes in many forms and so does its solutions! Some hunger is solved at the community level by local businesses, volunteers, or organizations - like Food Lifeline. Other times, it's the role of government to organize a response. An example of this is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is the nation’s first line of defense against hunger.
In March the Food Law and Policy Clinic of Harvard Law School (FLPC) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to release a report titled, Don’t Waste, Donate: Enhancing Food Donation Through Federal Policy. This report provides a roadmap for the federal government to remove barriers that now limit the amount of surplus food reaching communities in need.
In late March, the Washington State House of Representatives released a new budget that demonstrates that State leaders understand the need for improving access to food and addressing poverty. Families come first in the proposed budget as it works to fund community development, healthy people, a healthy environment, and reduce barriers to education.
Some key funding improvements included in the proposed budget are:
(From our President & CEO, Linda Nageotte)
No one wants to be hungry. Hunger robs people of opportunity. Food is a basic need, and everyone deserves enough food to eat.
It has been a very busy session in Olympia for hunger fighters. From an early Hunger Action Day to a new take on Breakfast After the Bell, there’s been a lot of action. March 8th was the cutoff for bills to move out of their first chamber, either the House or the Senate. There are three bills we’re keeping an eye on that made it past this benchmark and are now working their way through the Senate:
Over 12.1 million low-income children received free or reduced-price school breakfast in the US every day in the 2015-2016 school year. Compared to the 2014-2015 school year, this is an increase of 3.7%, or 433,000 children. In Washington State the number of students receiving free or reduced-price school breakfast barely changed compared to the previous school year.
Another Hunger Action Day has come and gone, and as always, it was a day full of action and passion! Each year, the Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition organizes an energetic lobby day that brings together anti-hunger advocates from across the state. Created as a day to help people speak directly to their elected officials, Hunger Action Day brought over 100 passionate advocates to Olympia on Monday, January 23.