Today, the Washington State Legislature released their final budget and it includes an additional $800,000 in funding for food banks through the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP). The first increase in support for food banks since 2007, this represents a huge victory for all of us who advocate and work to stop hunger.
“Not only are these funds vital to our network of partner food banks, but they represent a long desired recognition by elected officials of the important role Washington State food banks play in meeting the increased need in our communities,” said Gina Clark, Director of Public Policy at Food Lifeline.
In addition to purchasing food, these EFAP funds will provide money for food banks to buy new freezers, repair delivery vans and keep the lights on in the food pantry. Thanks to the efficiency of our network of partner food banks, this investment by the state of $800,000 will help leverage up to 2,400,000 meals between July 2014 and June 2015.
Food Lifeline would like to thank the numerous partner organizations, food banks, and individual advocates who took time in the last year to make this a successful request – all of the actions from responding to an alert to trekking to Olympia to testify made the difference in making this request a reality.
The other anti-hunger requests we supported received mixed support. The Farmers Market Nutrition Program which provides vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables to seniors and WIC clients received $200,000, a small but important step towards restoring the cuts that have been made in the last several years. Unfortunately the State Food Assistance program did not receive any additional funding this year and we hope that we can work to get those benefits fully restored next year. Finally, the Breakfast After the Bell proposal we supported got stalled in committee and we’ll be back to push forward that one again next year as well.
The legislature will adjourn for the year by midnight March 13, 2014, and we are truly thankful for the hard work put in by all of our legislators during the last year and a half.