Back to school

children eating in cafeteria

With summer winding down, back-to-school season is here once again. As the husband of a public school employee and father of two young kids, my household is busy preparing to make the upcoming school year a successful one.

As your state representative, I’m focused on how my work can help students of all ages and backgrounds in our community succeed.

Good nutrition = a strong start to the school year

Any parent knows, a hungry child can’t focus like a well-nourished one. Still, some families have no choice but to send their children to school without proper brain fuel. Equal access to education doesn’t matter when our most vulnerable kids are too hungry to learn. They deserve equal opportunity, and my fruit and veggie incentive bill provides exactly that.

By providing extra funds for fruit and vegetables to families receiving food assistance, families no longer have to choose between quality and quantity when feeding their children. Expanding the current Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grant allows families receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program to shop at farmers markets and get extra cash for fresh fruits and vegetables.

Too often our most vulnerable populations live in so-called “food deserts,” where the only affordable food is high in calories and low in nutritional value. My bill, which passed this year, helps put nutritious food back on the table and supports kids’ growing minds as well as bodies.

Click here to read about other work I have done to make sure our kids don’t go to class hungry.

Dreading the upcoming ‘fall back’?

Rep. Riccelli kicking soccer ball with students

The switch from daylight saving time to standard time has some undesirable side effects. It gets darker earlier in the evening, which can impact youth outdoor activities like sports. A health impact review even found that heart attacks, strokes and traffic collisions increase when we “fall back.” That is why last session I proposed getting rid of the switch altogether.

Permanent daylight saving time – also known as #DitchTheSwitch – would keep more light in the evenings, allowing youth to more safely participate in outdoor activities year round. With epic rates of childhood obesity and diabetes, this change could have positive outcomes for public health.

Washington state is not alone is seeking this change. Click here to read a recent NBC News story on the momentum around the nation to #DitchTheSwitch, and what happens next.

Home-grown health professionals

Back to school isn’t just for K-12. This fall, students are heading to school to pursue high-demand careers in the medical field. Here’s what I’ve been working to keep growing those opportunities right here in Spokane:

  • Working with WSU health professional students, I removed a barrier to education and health care access in our state. Health fairs give health professional students a chance to practice real patient interaction, while patients receive care they may not otherwise be able to afford. The medical professionals overseeing these students were formerly limited to being certified in the same field of study as the students. My bill this year changed that, allowing any qualified preceptor to oversee a health professional student. The result? Less red tape, better access to education and affordable health care.
  • Spokane is the proud home to the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine (ESFCOM). Admitting a more diverse class with a high amount of female students since opening its doors, ESFCOM levels the playing field and encourages doctors to serve the greater Spokane community. That is why I helped increase the number of slots this year from 60 to 80. In Spokane, we have banked our future on the health care sector. Admitting 20 more medical students to the ESFCOM program gives 20 more aspiring physicians a chance to receive a quality education, and gives our region 20 more doctors they may not otherwise have had.

It’s an honor to serve you. Please don’t hesitate to email me if you have questions, feedback, or concerns.

Best regards,