Washington State House Democrats


Hungry kids can’t learn

A hearty breakfast is a sure way to get your day started off right. A bowl of soup can warm you up when it’s cold outside. Food nourishes our bodies and our souls and it is one of life’s basic necessities.

Far too many kids are hungry, not only at home, but at school.  We often think of hunger in third world countries – in parts of the world where there is no running water and people live in community housing. But the problem of hunger is all around us.

 school busThe numbers are horrific: 20 percent of our kids live in a household where there isn’t enough to eat. Why would we think our students can learn how to solve a challenging math problem when their immediate REAL LIFE problem is sustaining life? We must break down barriers that keep them from accessing enough healthy nutritious food.

It is unacceptable that in 2015, in Washington state, home to some of the wealthiest people in the world, there are children without enough to eat.

The House budget recognizes and funds steps towards ending hunger for OUR kids. The Senate budget makes ZERO additions to any state food program while creating new tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.

Think back on a time when your work suffered because you skipped a meal – your stomach growling and your mind so preoccupied with food that it was hard to concentrate. Now imagine skipping meals day after day back while your body is growing. I know that this is a problem we can fix!  But until we have the courage to fix this problem we cannot expect people who are chronically hungry to do well in school or succeed at work.

There is an abundance of food in Washington. Enough that no one should have to skip meals. But the truth is, for many people, money is stretched too tight to feed their families right. Bills keep going up while paychecks are frozen.  What about that is fair or just?  Everyone in Washington deserves Food Security for their family.

During the lean years of the great recession, the Legislature made heartbreaking cuts to state food assistance programs and cut funding that supports Local Food Banks. These cuts were devastating to families who were already struggling to get by in a down economy.

The House budget gets us back on track to banishing hunger from Washington by restoring 100 percent of the funding for the state food assistance program! The Senate budget does nothing to restore any state Food program.

The House budget adds emergency food program funds to make sure that the local Food Banks can continue to provide nourishment for people who are struggling to put food on the table. The Senate budget makes no additions to any state Food program.

 Family Eating dinner
Photo: Thinkstock courtesy of the USDA

The House and Senate are still hashing out the details of a final budget, but one thing is clear – there will be unprecedented investments in our K-12 education system. Without fixing the hunger problem, investments in our public schools won’t truly help those 20 percent of students who are malnourished and hungry.

The House funds Breakfast After the Bell, a program to make sure that low-income students eat breakfast at the beginning of their school day, increasing their chances at academic success. Let me repeat the facts, the Senate budget makes no additions to any state Food program.

People matter.  Food matters. It matters to our moods, our health, and it makes a difference in our success. Please make sure that everyone in Washington has access to nutritious food.  Let’s make sure that our local Food Banks have the support they need to take care of local needs.

Reach out to your Senators and to your friends and neighbors and let them know that the House budget gets us closer to making hungry kids in Washington a thing of the past.