Together, We’re Ensuring No Kid Is Hungry
One in 8 Washington kids are regularly at risk of going hungry. This struggle not only affects their classroom skills, but their growth and behavior. It’ll require transforming long-standing systems to change that, but hunger is an immediate crisis, and we can act now.
There is no simple solution to solving food insecurity in our communities—but by maximizing cash benefits to relieve the financial burden of groceries, expanding federal child nutrition programs, and reimagining the emergency food system, we aim to move the needle closer to a hunger-free Washington.
We’re working to make sure that all kids in King County have the healthy food they need to learn and thrive—both during the school year and in the summer where the additional food costs make it hard for many families to make ends meet.
At a Glance
Developed + helped pass state legislation to expand access to universal, free school meals to 600,000 students in over 1,300 schools across Washington state
Operating dozens of Free Summer Meals locations countywide, serving over a half a million meals when school is out to help parents offset increased food costs
Supporting school districts to implement breakfast service for over 338,000 kids so they can learn better and thrive
Connecting families to federal SNAP dollars, helping them navigate the complex process
Partnering with community organizations to support after-school meals
Meeting the Need
1. Breakfast after the Bell
Breakfast after the Bell makes breakfast part of the school day, just like lunch. We know students who eat breakfast are more focused, have fewer absences, and have better test scores. It makes it easy for all kids to get food in the classroom and removes stigma because it’s available for everyone.
At United Way, we support school districts across Washington to implement breakfast service into the school day to maximize participation and reduce stigma—helping over 338,000 students have access to healthy meals every day.
2. Free Summer and Afterschool Meals
At United Way, we support school districts across Washington to implement breakfast service into the school day to maximize participation and reduce stigma—helping over 220,000 students have access to healthy meals every day.
Summers can strain families whose kids eat free or reduced-price meals during the school year. To ease the burden, United Way leads the statewide Free Summer Meals Program in partnership with our state education agency, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to provide free meals to youth under 18. An inspiring team of AmeriCorps members, site supervisors, and community volunteers spread out across the county to set up meal sites across schools, parks, and other areas—where kids already are. Free food (and activities!) can save a family a few hundred dollars each month during the summer. That’s money they can use to pay for rent or the ever-growing list of school supplies.
free summer meals served across 200 sites (900 sites across Washington state!), reaching more than 12,000 youth per day in King County in 2023
kids receive healthy afterschool meals through our partnerships with the YMCA of Greater Seattle, Auburn School District, and the City of Seattle.
3. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
As part of our work leveraging federal dollars to promote food security for children, we work to connect families to SNAP by raising awareness about eligibility and providing guidance, tools and support for families navigating the complex application process.
Did you know a community survey conducted by the University of Washington, showed that households with children are experiencing food insecurity at nearly 2x of households without children?
of households receiving SNAP benefits have children.
Advocacy in Action
United Way is an active advocate for expanding access to universal free school meals. As of March 2023, over 800,000 students in Washington can receive free meals every school day.
If you gathered all the kids benefitting from free school meals in one place, you would fill the Seahawks Stadium twelve times! That’s how many kids from our community will now eat free meals.
To help over 250+ schools that haven’t implemented this legislation yet, we worked closely with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to implement a robust accountability structure to support implementation of the child nutrition legislation. Our staff work regularly with 195 school districts across the state.
Whether you’re unable to access your local food bank or can’t afford to stock your pantry right now, our team and resources can help so hunger is the last thing you and your family need to worry about.
Real People. Real Stories.
This blog post was written by Madeleine Vistica, United Way of King County food security program manager. We at United […]
United Way of King County is partnering with Kaiser Permanente Washington to ensure more school children receive healthy, nutritious food. […]
Support Our Work
With the need for hunger relief in King County soaring, our goal is to work with the community to help feed it. The more money we raise, the more people we can help. Every dollar counts.