Legislative News from Rep. Mia Gregerson (D-SeaTac)
House budget proposal feeds hungry kids and families
OLYMPIA – The House budget proposal released today invests in feeding people and funds a food policy forum to begin looking holistically at food systems in Washington. The proposal would make sure kids are getting food at school; fund a food policy forum in the Department of Agriculture; and invest money in the state Basic Food program.
The budget proposal funds two important bills that make sure kids can eat while they are at school. $2.7 million goes towards House Bill 1295, which gives kids a chance to eat breakfast after the first bell of school. $500,000 funds House Bill 2964, which eliminates the copays for reduced price lunches, ensuring that children from low-income families are able to eat lunch.
In addition, Washington’s Basic Food program will be getting a $4 million boost in the coming year. Part of this funding is from a $2 million bonus from the federal government for having one of the highest performing programs in the country for the Basic Food program, commonly called food stamps. This budget uses the bonus for employment and training programs, which will get us an additional $2 million in federal match dollars, bringing the total up to $4 million. The employment and training services will be used for adults who are having a hard time finding work and will keep these adults eligible for basic food assistance.
“No one in Washington should be hungry or worry about where their next meal is going to come from,” said Rep. Mia Gregerson (D-SeaTac), prime sponsor of HB 2964, the bill to eliminate school lunch copays. “Being hungry keeps our kids and our adults from being able to be at their best at school or work. I am excited that House Democrats have proposed a budget that takes so many positive steps towards feeding Washington.”
The budget proposal also funds a food policy forum in the Department of Agriculture to report to the legislature on strengthening Washington’s food system. The food policy forum will examine issues including agricultural jobs, food production, access to healthy, fresh food, hunger, and farmland preservation.
“Since coming to the legislature, I have been trying to bring more awareness to issues of food access, food production, agricultural sustainability, and the role that food plays in our state’s economy and public health,” said Gregerson, who sponsored HB 1685 last year to establish the Washington food policy forum. “The food policy forum is a first step in assessing what is working with our current food system and where improvements can be made.”