Celebrating Investments in Health in Washington

The Senate and House budgets were released the week of February 18th, and soon budget writers will be meeting to negotiate a final budget. Legislators must vote for a final budget by Sine Die, which is on March 7th, otherwise the Washington State legislative session could go into special session. We are very unlikely to go into special session this year, as this is an election year. All the House members are up for re-election, and with Governor Inslee not re-running for Governor, a lot of legislators are running for new positions.

hero_image_alt_text===Fruits & Vegetables
thumbnail_alt_text===Fruits & Vegetables

Here's where we're at with our bills: 

HB 2058 / SB 5964 Increasing student access to free meals served at public schools

Unfortunately, the bill didn't make it out of committee before cutoff, which means the bill has died. However, our previous years' healthy school meals bill has been successful in expanding participation, and requires additional funding of $45 million to make up the difference.

Commercial Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding

The House budget included an additional $500,000 in one time funding for FY 2025, while the Senate did not. We are encouraging the Senate to match the House's budget. While this is only a fraction of what we initially asked for, legislators warned us that this year would be an extremely tight budget year.

We're also excited to support these other bills and budget items:

HB 1945 Streamlining and enhancing program access for persons eligible for food assistance

This bill will allow children that are eligible for or receiving basic food benefits eligible for Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) and Birth to Three ECEAP beginning August 1, 2030. The bill passed through the House and through the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education, and was recently referred to the Senate Rules Committee

Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program

This program will provide food as medicine to individuals experiencing food insecurity or individuals who are at high risk of developing a chronic health condition. Senate budget included $1.1 million for this program; $500,000 for FY2024, and $600,000 for FY2025

Summer EBT

This program will help 550,000 children and their families keep food on the table by providing grocery-buying benefits to low-income families with school-aged children when schools are closed for the summer and they don't have access to free and reduced-price school meals. Both the House and the Senate included $12.23 million for Summer EBT.

 If you're interested in learning more, reach out to Alex Hamasaki at [email protected]

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