Newsletters Food for Thought: January 2024 January 8, 2024 Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on Email 2024 Legislative Session | 23RD ANNUAL HOME TEAM HARVEST 2024 Legislative Session Monday, January 8 (TODAY!) is the first day of the legislative session in Washington state! This year, the second in the two-year budget cycle, session will only last 60 days. Buckle up – it’s gonna go by quickly! Take action now for a direct and powerful way to make your voice heard during this session: REGISTER for Hunger Action Day! Northwest Harvest’s 2024 advocacy efforts are organized into two agendas: the primary agenda (focused on anti-hunger priorities) and the support agenda (which includes anti-poverty measures and other priorities identified by coalitions we partner with). You can read the full descriptions of each agenda item on our blog. PRIMARY AGENDA Healthy School Meals for All (HB 2058): Children need healthy school breakfasts and lunches to focus on learning, and research has proven that good nutrition leads to higher academic outcomes for students. We support proposed legislation to maximize the participation and use of federal funding streams so that schools have the resources needed to distribute meals, and students can count on consistent fuel for learning and play. The other priorities are budget provisos (a proviso refers to language in a budget that provides funds for a specific purpose. Provisos in budget bills use the term, “provided solely for” followed by the specific purpose of the proviso), and therefore do not have associated bill numbers. Support Summer EBT and Combat Summertime Hunger: Congress recently created Summer EBT, a successor to the effective and popular Pandemic EBT, which provides summertime food assistance for low-income K-12 students. Investing $5.5 million to get our state’s program running for summer 2024 would ensure approximately 506,000 low-income Washington families have access to groceries while school is not in session. Sustain Senior Nutrition Programs: As the age wave grows, the number of seniors in Washington facing hunger is only going to go up. It is crucial that we act before we hit a crisis point. Research shows that delivered and congregate meals for seniors and people with disabilities can promote socialization, reduce loneliness, prevent hospitalizations, and delay residential care. We are asking for $15.2 million per year for senior nutrition programs. Support Washington’s Food Banks: As pandemic-era support and funds are drying up, reliance on food banks remains stubbornly high. In fact, according to WSDA’s latest data comparing food bank clients for 2022 to 2023, new client visits increased 33%; clients that visited a food bank more than once in the year increased 28%. Food justice organizations from around the state are requesting an additional one-time investment of $15 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) to meet this historic level of need. Fully Fund the Postsecondary Basic Needs Act: Last session, the legislature made strides toward easing the burden of hunger on college campuses by passing HB 1559 (The Postsecondary Basic Needs Act), which included policy provisions for basic needs navigators on college campuses. However, a funding gap was inadvertently created last year and we must secure additional funding to close this gap, so students have access to a robust support system. SUPPORT AGENDA Build Equity in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Allowing time limit exemptions for families experiencing hardship who participate in and otherwise meet all requirements for TANF benefits. Allowing families to keep 100% of their child support payments. Currently, in Washington state, if a child’s family receives TANF and child support payments from a non-custodial parent, the state collects and withholds a portion of their child support payments. Promote Food Security with Housing Security & Tenant Rights: Under Washington law, renters are not protected from excessive rent increases, predatory fees, or inadequate rent hike notice, causing increased evictions and homelessness among seniors and people of color. Increased housing security leads to greater food security. Guaranteed Basic Income Pilot: Creating the Evergreen Basic Income pilot ensures very low-income people have money to meet their needs in a way that provides flexibility and autonomy. GBI programs are proven to have positive impacts on poverty, hunger, mental health, housing stability, benefiting everyone in Washington, and creating safer, healthier communities for all. Progressive Revenue Solutions: In Washington, the lowest-income residents still pay the highest share of their income in taxes, while the wealthiest pay the least. Lawmakers must pass progressive revenue solutions to build an equitable tax system that ensures opportunity for all Washingtonians. Join us in advocating for more equitable food systems in Washington! Register for Hunger Action Day! Hunger Action Day is the Anti-Hunger and Nutrition Coalition’s annual lobby day in Olympia, where participants get advocacy training, learn what’s happening in our capitol, connect with fellow advocates, and meet with legislators to advocate for a stronger hunger safety net and anti-poverty policies. This year’s Hunger Action Day is on Thursday, February 1, 2024 and will take place in-person in Olympia, WA. Make sure to register by January 19, 2024 at bit.ly/HAD2024, so we can arrange meetings with your representatives! Keep an eye out for Advocacy Alerts! Watch your email throughout legislative session for actions you can take to help advocate for a more equitable food system in Washington. Follow us on social media @NWHarvest on Instagram, Facebook, and X (formerly Twitter). 23rd Annual Home Team Harvest: Gratitude and Giving As we wrap up the 23rd annual Home Team Harvest, our hearts overflow with gratitude. This year staff and volunteers from KING 5, Safeway, and Northwest Harvest set up at the Rainier Beach and Everett Safeways to collect food and donations and celebrate the power of community. Throughout November and December, KING 5 shared stories from community members across western Washington. We explored the journeys of families facing food insecurity, showcased the tireless efforts of community partners, and celebrated the spirit of giving that binds us together. The culminating hour-long Home Team Harvest broadcast special on December 2nd served as a testament to the impact we collectively make when we join together. To our community partners and supporters, we are grateful for your dedication to ending hunger in Washington. To those who came out and joined hands with us – your generosity has nourished and inspired communities all over the state. We know that it takes more than food to end hunger – it takes the action of an entire community. Thank you all for being a part of this occasion! As we enter 2024, the seeds of justice we’ve sown together will continue to grow throughout the year. Thank you for being part of this incredible journey! Let’s carry this spirit forward. You can watch the 2023 Home Team Harvest media special anytime on YouTube.