WA families struggle with hunger as federal food assistance expires
Expanded benefits under the federal food assistance program known as SNAP are set to end this week. The expiration comes at a time when Washington residents continue to struggle with hunger.
The temporary boost approved at the height of the pandemic meant eligible families received an extra $95 in monthly benefits.
On a recent visit to Food Lifeline’s warehouse in Seattle’s South Park, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D–Wash.) met with volunteers who spent time sorting through donated produce. Murray vowed to protect SNAP funding as Congress is poised to reauthorize the Farm Bill that regulates agriculture and nutrition programs. But some members want to cut spending.
“It’s not a time to cut back investments,” Murray said. “It’s actually a time to make sure we are doing what we need for the future and investing more.”
A recent UW-WSU survey shows that low-income families continue to struggle with hunger. The report surveyed more than 5,000 residents. More than half of the respondents are using food banks and SNAP.
“Food prices and fuel costs are up,” said UW Professor Jennifer Otten, co-author of the report. “And at the same time food bank inventories are down.”
She added that families are forced to change how they eat and shop.
“Some of the concerning ones when we think of nutritional status, they’re purchasing less produce, they’re purchasing less meat,” Otten said.
Otten notes that many respondents say their grocery bills were the largest source of financial stress — more so than paying rent or utilities.