Last week, Hunger Intervention Program hosted a screening of A Place at the Table, a film highlighting hunger in America. As children, like ten-year old Rosie, shared their experiences, the overwhelming response from the audience was heads shaking side-to-side, saying “this isn’t right” and “how is this possible?” In a state as rich with resources as Washington, why aren’t we all shaking our heads that one in four kids are going to bed hungry tonight?
Everyone can agree that all children deserve an equal opportunityto learn and succeed in school. This is the ideal on which our country was founded. No matter where you come from or what you look like, all children should have the opportunity to excel. Already, too many children in Washington struggle in school because of hunger. They are sick more often, have trouble concentrating, and miss more days of school. The power to make sure more children have enough food on their table is in the hands of Washington legislators.
Last summer, just as school let out and food insecure families began to worry about how to afford food when their children are out of school and not receiving school breakfast and lunch, the Washington State legislature cut the State Food Assistance budget by 50%. This slashing left 14,000 kids in Washington families without enough food.
The State Food Assistance Program was built on the principle that no child should go hungry. After Congress eliminated food assistance for legal, documented immigrants in 1996, former Governor Gary Locke and a bipartisan legislature designed the State Food Assistance program in 1997 to leverage national dollars and cost-effectively work with the federal food stamp program.
Our legislators are currently tasked with increasing funding for education. One can’t help but wonder, what good will this investment in education do if many of our children are too sick and too hungry to learn?
The fight to end hunger is complicated. It can be overwhelming when you look around and see our safeguards against hunger slowly crumbling, just as need is rising. So, let’s start small with a solution that has helped Washington families since 1997 – restore funding for State Food Assistance. Contact your legislators and ask them to restore funding to State Food Assistance. Let them know that our budget crisis cannot be solved by taking food off the tables of our children.
Contact your legislators today. Call 1-800-562-6000 or email your representatives and senator directly.