What is food assistance?
In 2018, one in six Washingtonians (1.15 million people) received food from emergency food providers that were supported with resources from our programs. Hunger and food insecurity are symptoms of the complex problem of poverty. People skip meals if it means saving money that they can divert to other pain points of thier household budget like paying the rent, utilities bills, or health care. According to the most recent U.S. census data, 1 in 10 people in Washington live in poverty, which is equivalent to $25,750 annually to support a family of four. It is no surprise then that more people visit food banks and food pantries to stretch limited resources, regardless of whether they meet the definition of poverty.
Food Assistance serves lower-income individuals and families by providing commodity food, state & federal funding, logisitics services and community outreach to hunger relief providers and tribes across the state. Through active engagement and strong partnerships, we strengthen the emergency food system, improve access to nutritious and safe foods, and ensure regulatory compliance, while honoring our connections with agriculture. At WSDA, Food Assistance is part of the Food Safety and Consumer Services Division which plays an active role in defending the availability, safety, and integrity of our food system.
Our advisory committee is part of the Washington Food Coalition and plays a critical role in developing coordinated, responsive, and strategic solutions to the issue of hunger in our state. In 2018, WSDA’s Food Assistance programs provided approximately $23 million worth of state and federal food and funding to support a network of more than 500 food banks, food pantries, meal programs, tribes, and tribal organizations. This year, due to increased federal The Emergency Food Program (TEFAP) funding, paired with an influx of additional commodity foods through the temporary Trade Mitigation Program (TMP), we project an increase to $40 million or more.