Volunteers and staff of food banks in Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties will gather at Coastal Harvest in Hoquiam on Friday, June 20, at an event that is co-hosted by Northwest Harvest, Food Lifeline, and the Washington Food Coalition to thank Rep. Brian Blake and Sen. Brian Hatfield for their leadership in securing additional state funds for food banks statewide. Rep. Blake and Sen. Hatfield, who both represent Washington’s 19th Legislative District, co-sponsored an increase in funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) in the 2014 budget. EFAP helps food banks buy food to distribute to hungry families and pay the bills to keep their lights on and their doors open. The Washington State Legislature added a one-time appropriation of $800,000.

“In Washington, one out of every five people relies on their local food bank,” said Shelley Rotondo, CEO of Northwest Harvest, and yet this is the first time the Legislature has increased EFAP since 2008. Northwest Harvest, which distributes food to food banks and meal programs statewide, provided more than 419,000 meals during FY 2013 in the 19th Legislative District alone. “We thank Rep. Blake, Sen. Hatfield, and our Legislature for recognizing that increased support for food banks is an important investment in our communities and in families in need.”

Despite the ongoing economic recovery, food banks not only serve more clients than they did before the recession, but clients are also visiting food banks more frequently. The increased need is due to a number of factors, including cuts to the food stamp program and the lack of jobs that pay enough to meet a household’s basic needs.

“The increase in EFAP support will help food banks provide some relief to hungry families, but it is by no means a replacement for the millions of meals being missed due to cuts in food stamps,” Rotondo added. “Increasing EFAP is an example of the strong partnership between government programs and private charitable giving that is needed to end hunger in Washington state.”

Last year, food banks and meal programs in the 19th Legislative District served more than 236,000 individuals, approximately 34 percent of whom were infants and children. Coastal Harvest, based in Hoquiam, partners with Northwest Harvest and other emergency food distributors, delivering food to more than 50 food banks, senior centers, tribal centers, and feeding programs in Grays Harbor, Pacific, Lewis, Thurston, Jefferson, and Wahkiakum Counties.

WHO: Representative Brian Blake and Senator Brian Hatfield visiting Coastal Harvest.
WHAT: Thank You Event at Coastal Harvest, recognizing Rep. Blake and Sen. Hatfield for championing budget request for increased state funds for emergency food providers.

WHEN: June 20, 2014, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
WHERE: 520 Tyler Street, Hoquiam, WA 98550