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Help Working Families Put Food on the Table

It’s already the start of Week 4 of the 2021 Washington State Legislative Session. This week, there will be hearings on two of our priorities. Both of these priorities will secure resources for working families to help them afford food and other essentials.

HB 1342, sponsored by Rep. April Berg, will eliminate the school lunch co-pay for students that qualify for reduced price meals. Students in this category pay 40 cents for lunch, but that amount adds up, especially when there is more than one child in the home: a family of four that is eligible for reduced price meals has a monthly income of just $3,793 which must spread out to cover essential expenses for housing, childcare, utilities, and other bills. If students in these families could eat for free, they wouldn’t have to worry whether they can afford to eat a nutritious meal at school and their parents could have more flexibility to put those savings towards other household expenses. After making some incremental progress over the years, this year’s bill will eliminate the lunch co-pay for students in grades 4-12.

Also being heard this week is HB 1297, sponsored by Rep. My-Linh Thai, and its Senate companion, SB 5387, sponsored by Sen. Joe Nguyen. This legislation would provide Recovery Rebates to working families with children, provided by finally funding our state’s Working Families Tax Credit. Under the proposed legislation, 500,000 households would receive a rebate payment between $500-$950 (based on income and household size). The average annual income of the eligible households is under $24,000, so the Recovery Rebate would make a substantive difference, helping to pay for housing, a car repair, or the childcare needed in order to work essential jobs. The legislation also includes 33,500 ITIN filers-these are primarily undocumented immigrants and domestic violence survivors who pay taxes but who have otherwise not been eligible for tax relief.

Eliminating the lunch co-pay and funding Recovery Rebates with the Working Families Tax Credit have strong bipartisan support and provide critical support for families who are facing even bigger economic setbacks than they were before the pandemic. These are smart policies, giving families a leg up on the kinds of costs that could devastate a family budget without having to miss the meals that keep kids healthy to focus on learning and adults healthy to keep working.

Join us for Hunger Action Day!

There’s still time to register for Hunger Action Day on Feb. 12! Join our annual lobby day in Olympia from your home. We’ll schedule meetings for you and others from your legislative district to meet with your lawmakers and provide online trainings on talking points and advocacy 101. Register here.

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