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Washington’s hungry hit harder by new legislation

SPRING 2014

Hungry people in Washington face a double hit from changes in the new federal Farm Bill. Cuts to food stamps (SNAP) will hit people harder here than in other states and put more pressure on food banks already stretched thin by a high level of need.

The $8.6 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program over the next 10 years affects only 15 states, of which Washington is one, meaning a disproportionately high impact on the poor in our communities.* An estimated 232,000 households in our state will lose, on average, $90 per month. This loss comes on top of the $36 per month reduction this past November.

The result is that about half of Washington’s families who get help from food stamps will see, on average, $126 disappear each month from their food budgets. As a consequence, emergency food providers expect to see people coming more frequently and in greater need. “That’s one less meal in my kid’s mouth,” said Pearl, who gets help from food stamps and the White Center Food Bank to feed her family.

“We know there is a direct connection between food stamps and the impact on food banks,” said Shelley Rotondo, CEO. “When food stamps go down, the need for food banks goes up.”

As the need grew to record levels over the past five years, Northwest Harvest dramatically increased the amount of food distributed, last year providing 30 million pounds free of charge to more than 360 food banks, meal programs and high-need schools. Although the need is leveling off, it has yet to go back down, given sluggish economic growth. Many food banks are also seeing a decrease in donations.

“Without Northwest Harvest deliveries, we would not be able to meet the demand for assistance,” says Pasco Community Services Food Bank in Franklin County.

*For more details, to sign up for advocacy alerts or find other ways you can make a difference, see Take-Action