The percentage of Washington residents who go to bed hungry went up last year, placing the state's hunger rate significantly above the national rate.
The annual survey of Household Food Insecurity in America, conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Census Bureau, was released this month, at the same time the U.S. House of Representatives is debates a proposed $864 million cut to the food stamp program. The cuts are part of the Congress's current Budget Reconciliation Plan.
"We know that food stamps keep hunger at bay for thousands of families in our state," said Linda Stone, Eastern Washington Director of the Children's Alliance. "If the House votes to cut food stamps this week, our representatives in D.C. will be stealing food off the tables of thousands of Washington children."
The Children's Alliance, a nonprofit child advocacy group, this week released "Hungry in Washington," an overview of the latest data. The new hunger data rank Washington as the 12th hungriest state in the nation. The state percentage of households that are "food insecure with hunger" rose to 4.3 percent. The term "food insecurity with hunger" applies to households where at least one family member goes hungry at times because there is not enough money for food. In addition, households financially stretched to the point where they can't be sure every household member will eat rose to 12 percent, or 292,000 households.
Lines at food banks and calls to emergency hotlines in Washington have been on the rise as more and more families struggle to provide the basic necessities.
"We're experiencing a client explosion," said Robert Coit, executive director of the Thurston County Food Bank. "Our client numbers are up over 30 percent over this same period last year."
Tracy Wilking, executive director of the Washington Food Coalition, added, "Even before this summer's fuel price surge, our members across the state were seeing more hungry adults and families. As winter approaches, we know people are now choosing between food, fuel and heat."
"Hungry in Washington" is available online at http://childrensalliance.org/publications/reports.cfm.