Dear friends and neighbors,
No one should go hungry, especially our kids who may no longer have access to regular meals while schools are shut down due to COVID-19.
This is why our state, local and community partners are coming together to coordinate on the fight against hunger. Most recently, the governor announced the WA Food Fund, which will not only help keep our kids fed, but will also help food banks keep their shelves stocked. It’s a collaboration between government, nonprofits, and philanthropies. It’s a coordinated effort to get food to those in need across the state. Learn more or volunteer by visiting WAFoodFund.org.
Additionally, schools are providing free meals to students. Restaurants, local businesses and mutual aid groups are keeping our healthcare workers and first responders fed on the frontlines. Farmers markets are re-opening with social distancing protocols so that farmers can sell their goods and people can access low-income programs that allow them to double their dollars at the market. We will continue to look for ways to work together and advocate for federal funding so people can put food on their tables.
Food security resources on the Eastside
Too often, the only meal a child gets in a day is the one provided by their public school.
When picking up meals, please remember to Stay Healthy by staying six feet apart, wearing face masks and gloves and washing your hands.
Lake Washington Public Schools are providing free breakfast and lunch for any child 18 and younger on week days and Pantry Packs for weekends. Children must be present when picking up meals, however parents can verify on the order if they are picking up on behalf of their child. Meals may be pre-ordered online, or there are Grab & Go options. Learn more, view the menu or place an order.
Bellevue Public Schools are also offering free meals to any child 18 and under. Breakfast and lunch can be pre-ordered in advance, or there are Grab & Go options available. Meals may also be ordered from Nutritional Services at (425) 456-4505. There will be no meal service on Monday, May 25 due to Memorial Day. Learn more, view the menu or place an order.
King County has put together a resource page for COVID-19 emergency food information, including organizations assisting with food delivery and pick up options.
Washington State has put together a food assistance resource page on the official Washington State COVID-19 website, which includes information on emergency food access.
Food access and security in the federal CARES Act
An estimated 1.6 million Washingtonians are at risk of not having enough food to eat. That’s twice as many people at risk than before the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last few weeks alone, Washington has seen an 80 percent increase in food assistance applications and a drastic increase in the use of food banks whose donations are down by 70 percent.
So far, federal funding has helped, but much more will be needed:
- The federal CARES Act provides $23.5 billion for agricultural producers across the nation.
- The state will get $9.7 million from the Families First Act to increase enrollment in the WIC program. The CARES Act appropriated an additional $8.8 billion for the WIC program. We do not know how much of this money will come to Washington.
- The CARES Act funded an approximate $9.7 million increase in the SNAP program in Washington, including increasing the benefit amount that many families can receive.
- The CARES Act allows more flexibility in the use of funds for congregate meal programs and home delivery of meals to accommodate social distancing, and allocates $10.33 million to Washington for these programs.
- The three federal stimulus packages have provided Washington with $18.2 million to help food banks serve communities by ordering US grown commodities directly from the USDA.
While we look at ways to support our communities during this crisis, only the federal government can offer support on the scale that is needed. We are advocating for future investments by the federal government to do more, otherwise, the challenges created by this crisis will be compounded.
Have you received our mailers yet?
We sent out a couple of mailers earlier this month that may have already reached your mailboxes. If you didn’t get them, you can read them online:
Virtual Community Conversation
We’d like to thank those of you who tuned into our 48th Legislative District Virtual Community Conversation on Tuesday evening. Both of us, along with Sen. Patty Kuderer and our guest, Kerrie Hurd, with the U.S. Small Business Administration, answered many of your questions about resources for small businesses, workers and families during the COVID-19 public health crisis. If you were not able to join live, click on the image below to watch it now (streaming begins at 7:20).
The Legislature is still holding virtual meetings frequently to discuss new developments as well as ideas to help our communities get through this very difficult period. We realize we have a long road ahead, and we are actively seeking creative solutions to help more people across the state.
Please let us know how we may be of assistance.