Hunger News and Trends

Hunger Is Just One Symptom of Poverty

When people visit a food bank or meal program, food is often not the only thing on their minds. They may also be concerned about how they will pay their rent that month, or pay for gas for the car to get to work.

For the most vulnerable families,
hunger is just one symptom of poverty.

One of the programs that helps support these families is Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), which provides a monthly cash benefit on an electronic benefit card to very low income families. TANF helps to provide economic security for families with children while parents look and train for adequate and stable employment.

So who benefits from TANF?

Nearly 40,000 families including 62,000 kids! Most families are on the program for less than 18 months and 49% participate for less than a year and never return.

In 2011 the Washington Legislature cut over $600 million from the program, so a family of three only gets $478 per month when they used to get $562. This year advocates are fighting to get that $84 per month back in the hands of families who truly need it to survive.

What would they do with $84 per month?

Clients said that would cover a month’s worth of diapers, 2 winter coats, or 2.5 tanks of gas to get to work.

Food Lifeline’s mission is to end hunger in Western Washington,
and we know we can’t do it alone.

Key programs like TANF, alongside anti-hunger programs ensure families have the resources they need to get back on their feet when they have nowhere else to turn. Restoring the 15% cut to the TANF grant would mean families have just a little more money each month to cover their costs for housing, transportation, and health care, making the decisions between food and these other basics just a little bit easier. 

Want to learn more?

Invest in TANF to Help Strengthen Families – a blog post written by the Washington State Budget and Policy Center

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: A Lifeline for Children – a fact sheet by Poverty Action

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