Because of the importance of the upcoming Hunger Action Day, I wanted to devote more time to the topic and allow our public policy manager, Josh Fogt, to educate us a bit more on why advocacy work is so critical at this time:
"Just four weeks into the 2011 legislative session, we are hard at work advocating for access to nutritious food for everyone in Washington.
Right now, the need for services the state provides are going up while revenues gained from sales taxes are going down. Food banks and meal programs know this recessionary challenge of increasing need and decreasing donations well.
To address the state budget crisis, both the State House and State Senate are working on “early action” or “supplemental” budget bills to help get the state through the remaining fiscal year (through June 20, 2011). Many services critical to our fight against hunger are at risk in these budgets, and your advocacy is needed to protect them.
We are tracking four key early action budget items and encourage our supporters to contact their state representatives and senators to advocate for these services in the final budget.
Contacting your legislators is easy: call the toll-free legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or look up your legislators online and email your House Representatives, Senators and the Governor.
We encourage you to take these four action steps:
1. Thank legislators for preserving the State Food Assistance Program. While the House and Senate budgets reduce benefit levels of this food stamp program by half, they rejected eliminating SFA as was being proposed.
2. Remind legislators of the importance of our WSDA Food Programs that help put food on the shelves of food banks around the state and thank legislators for preserving pass-through grants to local hunger programs.
3. Encourage legislators to restore funding for Maternity Support Services that in many parts of the state are critical to providing WIC vouchers for nutritional foods to our most vulnerable mothers, infants and children.
4. Finally, encourage legislators to reinstate full funding for our school food & nutrition services. Both House and Senate budgets propose cutting $3 million from the reimbursement rates to school districts, compromising the nutritional quality of the meals and the health of our children.
Thanks for your support and advocacy, and don’t forget to register for Hunger Action Day on February 25 in Olympia!"