OLYMPIA – Legislation to provide transitional food assistance to more families and update statutes to reflect changes at the federal level was signed into law by Gov. Inslee this week.

Senate Bill 5785, sponsored by Sen. Liz Lovelett (D-Anacortes), directs the Department of Social and Health Services to provide additional food assistance to households that successfully transition off Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

The transitional food assistance will last for five months after a family ceases to receive TANF benefits so long as they are not in full-family sanction status. Under current law, transitional food assistance is not available to entire families when a single member of the household unit is unable to meet program employment requirements. Under SB 5785, the rest of the household, including children, will no longer be penalized during this period of transition off of TANF.

“It is far too easy for families to be just 1 dollar away from losing vital benefits that help them get by,” said Lovelett. “This bill will ensure kids in crisis across Washington are getting the food they need to grow and thrive. This food assistance will provide families with a ramp towards stability rather than a cliff to fall off after they no longer receive TANF benefits and will reduce future public benefit reliance as a result.”

The legislation builds off years of work to improve nutritional wellness programs, including a 2020 bill also sponsored by Lovelett which expanded access to nutritious foods through the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.