State Legislature Starts New Session; Federal Farm Bill Negotiations Continue

State Level

Last week was the first of the legislative session and hunger was a big topic - the voices of constituents and our advocacy efforts have made an impact already. In Governor Inslee's State of the State address, he talked about how many Washingtonians don't have enough food to eat. Last Monday, the House Appropriations Committee heard testimony on the Governor's budget proposal and lawmakers heard testimony from Northwest Harvest's lobbyist, as well as from Food Lifeline, about the need to increase funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program. Two members and the Food Policy Director from Children's Alliance testified about the need to restore equal funding for State Food Assistance.

On Wednesday, the Senate also held a hearing on the Governor's budget; three food bank directors - Carla Jones (Seattle Indian Health Center Food Bank); Kevin Glackin-Coley (St. Leo Food Connection) and Robert Coit (Thurston County Food Bank) each testified to the need they see every day and asked for additional funding for EFAP. You can watch their heartfelt testimony here (beginning near 2:07). Northwest Harvest also testified in support of additional funding for the Farmers Market Nutrition Program for WIC and Seniors, and a Children's Alliance member and staff spoke eloquently about State Food Assistance funding.

On Thursday morning, a joint session of House Education and Health/Wellness Committees heard a presentation by Washington Appleseed about expanding participation in School Breakfast as a critical tool to fight hunger and improve learning.

In all, anti-hunger advocates made a big impact all across the Capitol this week - THANKS to all who came in the first week to support our legislative agenda!

Federal Level

Farm Bill negotiators have been stuck for weeks, trying to get agreements mainly on dairy issues and farming definitions. While we expected to see a proposal from the conference committee leads as soon as Congress returned at the beginning of January, these sticking points have delayed any final agreement. We have been in regular contact with our delegation but no one is certain when they will have a proposal - "soon" is what we keep hearing. In the meanwhile, we know our advocacy network is making a difference because Congressional staff tell us that they are hearing from you all about how important it is to protect SNAP. We will you posted as soon as we get any new information. Tthank you for keeping up the drumbeat of support! 

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