Funding for EFAP will help relieve the huge burden food banks have carried for the past five years as the need hit record highs. Food banks are resourceful, efficient stewards of public funds and $1 million can leverage up to 3 million more meals in a year. However, while food banks are a critical resource, food banks alone can’t solve hunger in Washington—the 15th hungriest state in the nation.
In light of the recent and upcoming cuts to SNAP (food stamps), Washington needs to restore parity in State Food Assistance benefits. Right now, folks who are eligible for State Food Assistance receive only 40 cents per meal, and that amount will be reduced even further when the federal Farm Bill cuts take effect. There is no funding in either state budget for this program.
Similarly, while we are grateful that the Senate budget adds some funds ($200,000) to Farmers Market Nutrition Programs, we are concerned that the House budget has nothing for this program. Finally, the Breakfast After the Bell bill is stalled in the Senate. If it does not go hearing on Friday, it will die in committee. In a state that is already in the bottom 10 states for serving poor kids with this program, Breakfast After the Bell is a modest yet proven way to make a difference for kids.
Together, our priorities were modestly priced at $2.9 million for four programs. These four programs target the most vulnerable populations (students, WIC families, seniors and food banks that serve everyone) and represent investments across the hunger safety net. While we are appreciative for funding for food banks, they can’t fight hunger alone, and these budgets ask food banks to do just that.