Have a Heart for Kids Day 2020

State Food Assistance fills a gap for state's hungry families

Adam 01/17/11


With one million Washington residents currently receiving Basic Food (food stamps), it’s clear that hard times are not yet over in our state.

There’s good news in that statistic, however, because Basic Food is a federal entitlement program that grows when times are tough and shrinks when folks go back to work.

For 15,000 Washington children who live in families that receive State Food Assistance, however, the good news will end Feb. 1 unless the legislature acts to reject Governor Gregoire’s proposed elimination of the program.

As the state-funded version of food stamps, State Food Assistance is a uniquely Washington invention. In 1997, as part of welfare reform Congress cut food assistance to millions of people residing legally in the U.S.

Washington’s governor and legislature felt so strongly that this was the wrong thing to do that they created State Food Assistance to fill the gap for these parents and grandparents, children, nieces and nephews, neighbors and co-workers: families who came to the U.S. for opportunity and a decent life and who, like the rest of us, sometimes fall on hard times.

Who receives State Food Assistance? Domestic violence victims, crime victims, people applying for asylum in the U.S., citizens of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands (countries with compacts of free association with the U.S.), and people who have green cards but have been in the U.S. less than five years. They receive, on average, $114 per month in benefits.

There is almost no administrative overhead for the program because its operation is piggybacked on federal food stamps. In fact, the people receiving SFA don’t know that they are receiving it.

As parents, taxpayers, and participants in our democracy, we know that along with all its life-giving benefits, food is about security for kids, and it’s about hospitality and welcome. Will Washington turn its back on the most basic needs of these children and families? The Children’s Alliance urges the legislature to say NO, to preserve State Food Assistance.