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:
- HB 1508 Washington Kids Ready to Learn Act combines Breakfast After the Bell with support for farmers in our state to help make sure more low income kids have access to healthy food at school.
- HB 1551 Apple a Day school kitchen equipment grants expands on the grant fund established last year for schools and districts to apply for scratch cooking equipment to prepare fresh food for school meals.
- HB 1831 Raises the limits on the value of a car and amount of cash or ‘assets’ that is taken into consideration when a family is applying for government assistance programs. This means more access to these programs without families having to entirely deplete their resources before getting help.
The ‘Bill Reports’ on these pages are a great resource for a summary and background of each bill.
The Senate budget was also released on Tuesday, March 21. The bill did not cut state food bank funding (EFAP), school meals, for Farm to School, but there was a big cut to State Food Assistance. This is the state-funded, SNAP-lookalike program for legal immigrants who don’t qualify for federal benefits. The Senate budget proposes cutting this program by $4.2 million during the biennium as a result of passing SB 5897 which would prohibit recipients from purchasing “sweetened beverages, candy, or desserts.” There is no reasonable connection between this type of legislation and a funding cut – and it’s poorly written policy that singles out one group of beneficiaries. There are also program changes that impact other anti-poverty programs and a failure to increase revenue. While the Senate budget increases funding for education, it does so at the expense of the programs and supports that help our communities thrive. The Olympian has additional details.
We anticipate the House budget coming out early next week and will let you know what’s there!