Gregerson’s bill to combat hunger now heads to the Governor’s desk

OLYMPIA—Food costs are up 13 percent from one year ago. While everybody is noticing the highest levels of inflation this country has experienced since the 1980s, our most vulnerable are suffering from it the most. People on limited incomes or seniors are especially hit hard by rising costs at the grocery store.

Federal funding for pandemic-related grocery supplements ended a month ago, on Feb. 28. $93 million a month suddenly stopped for those Washingtonians relying on supplemental SNAP benefits.

Who relies on SNAP? Nationally, 59 percent of people are either children (43 percent) or seniors (16 percent). In Washington, this affects half a million people.

“Here at home, Washingtonians are more worried about food insecurity than they are about rent increases,” said Rep. Mia Gregerson (D-SeaTac). “That’s why I introduced HB 1784 at the start of this year’s Legislative Session. This bill solves an urgent issue we have on our hands and protects our most vulnerable.”

Seattle Channel’s Inside/Out program recently aired an episode about what the state is doing to fight food insecurity and alleviate poverty in our state. You can learn more and watch the episode here.

The bill provides an additional $28 million in food assistance as soon as April. It is an effort to get food to our food banks and food pantries throughout the state, as well as to senior service agencies. It is an appropriation of $20 million for grants to hunger relief organizations, $2 million to the Washington State Department of Health for fruit and vegetables and incentive programs, and another $6 million for the Area Agency on Aging.

HB 1784 was heard in the Senate yesterday and passed unanimously, 49-0. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.