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Sen. Fain leads effort to restore aid for children

Sen. Joe Fain with members of the Marshallese community in the Senate chamber. - Courtesy photo
Sen. Joe Fain with members of the Marshallese community in the Senate chamber.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Due to decreasing state support for State Food Assistance in recent years, Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn) spearheaded an effort to restore funding for the program in the Senate operating budget approved on April 5.

"The state constitution demands that we educate every child within our border," said Fain, who serves as the Senate majority floor leader. "Restoring food assistance is the first step toward ensuring that many of those students show up to the classroom ready to learn."

State Food Assistance provides money to low-income families with children for groceries. Due to a more than $5 billion budget shortfall in 2011, benefits for the program were lowered by 50 percent beginning in 2012. The bipartisan Senate budget for 2013-15 adds $9.4 million to the program, increasing funding levels by 50 percent.

The bipartisan Senate budget for 2013-15 adds $9.4 million to the program and increases access to the program by 50 percent.

"The Senate budget takes important steps toward fully funding State Food Assistance so that children can get the food they need. Hungry kids can't learn," said Jon Gould, deputy director of the Children's Alliance, a statewide group focused on children's issues. "Sen. Fain's dedication to moving these improvements along in the budget process and rallying the support of his colleagues was essential for its success. Just as important was his engagement with community members in King County who are greatly affected by the decisions made at the state Capitol about State Food Assistance and other programs for children and families."

In December – ahead of the 2013 legislative session – Fain met with a group of Marshallese families in Kent to gather input on the importance of food assistance in their households and discuss ways to improve the program for children and families. Members of the group reconnected with Fain this past week during a visit to the state Capitol in Olympia to reach out to other lawmakers on the issue.

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