An overview of WA’s food subsidies during the pandemic


As many as one in three Washingtonians have used state food aid at some point between October and January this year, and the University of Washington and Washington State University are plunging those numbers into a new report.

That report is due for release on Tuesday, but information on food insecurity during the pandemic was provided to lawmakers at a House appropriations committee on September 23. Before the 2019 pandemic, one in six Washingtonians used food programs. This number rose to one in four and eventually dropped to one third.

This figure gives an imperfect picture of real food needs, said Laura Raymond, regional markets program manager at the Washington State Department of Agriculture, because many families may not have used the programs. the state. The universities report will dig into these numbers to identify disparities in food insecurity between communities.

During the pandemic, millions of dollars were spent on food and farming programs in Washington state. From April 2020 to June, $ 140 million came from federal agencies and programs to improve food aid programs, provide emergency food and other services.

Below is a graph describing the regions of the state that received funding during the third of three rounds of capacity grants.

The pandemic has also shifted demand to small-scale meat processors, and $ 5 million of CARES funding has gone to these producers to help improve capacity. About $ 15.25 million of funds from the Commerce Department’s Disaster Response Account were used to provide small business assistance grants for COVID relief and recovery, and included 840 grants across four sectors. affected which can be seen in the graphic below.

Significant amounts of subsidies have been given to producers of craft drinks, including distilleries, breweries, cider houses and small wineries. Raymond said these businesses rely heavily on sales and tasting rooms that were closed during the pandemic. They also depend on ingredients purchased from Washington state agriculture such as hops, apples, pears, and grapes.

“We recognize the interdependence of the economy,” Raymond said.

In the biennial budget, the state legislature invested over $ 94 million in food systems, including the Focus on Food program. One of the biggest appropriations for the 2022-2023 biennium was $ 45 million from the USDA We Feed WA pilot program which abruptly ended in May.

Finally, the state Department of Agriculture collaborated with the Equity Office. This includes providing one-time funding of $ 180,000 to find ways to better include ranchers and under-represented farmers in program strategies. There is also $ 5 million set aside for the new Farm-to-School Purchase Grant which will provide schools with money to purchase food locally in the state.

An additional $ 8 million will be spent on local supply chain and market access grants, prioritizing women, minorities and small business owners.

Your support matters.

Public service journalism is more important today than ever. If you get anything from our coverage, please consider donating to support our work. Thanks for reading our tips.


About Author

Comments are closed.