Partner Spotlight: United Way of King County
WithinReach is thrilled to have partnered with United Way of King County for the past 5 years to support our food access work through Bridge to Basics, Summer Meals and legislative efforts.
Our friends at UWKC recognize the importance of partnership and innovation, and invested in WithinReach’s work to connect families in crisis to basic needs programs, in particular Basic Food (food stamps). At the time of the economic downturn, the Basic Food program was sorely underutilized in King County, and federal dollars were not being effectively leveraged in our local communities (every $5 in food stamps spent generates $9 in local economic activity). At the same time, UWKC realized that an on-the-ground approach was needed to connect with people who might otherwise slip through the cracks. A partnership was born, with United Way providing the funding support, and WithinReach providing AmeriCorps staff and a deep knowledge of assistance programs, to help connect low-income families to Basic Food.
The program has evolved over the years, and our AmeriCorps team has nearly tripled in size! However, the core tenets of Bridge to Basics remain the same: Knowledge, Screening, Application Assistance, and Follow-up, to ensure that families are successfully accessing programs that will help them put food on the table and lead healthy lives. During tax season, WithinReach also works with United Way of King County and United Way of Snohomish County to provide application assistance and resources to clients at their tax sites. This partnership is crucial to helping taxpayers receive lasting benefits and services long after tax season ends.
WithinReach is also proud to partner with United Way of King County on Summer Meals, a federal nutrition program that provides free meals and snacks to kids and teens during the summer months. Driven by the fact that far too many kids do not have access to adequate food during the summer months when they are out of school, United Way launched the One Million Meals Campaign in 2013. They are increasing partnerships and outreach efforts so that more kids around Washington have access to summer meals.
In addition to program work, United Way of King County also led an effort in Olympia this year to pass legislation that would increase participation in school breakfast programs by having high needs schools offering breakfast after the bell. WithinReach was supportive of this legislative effort, and worked alongside UWKC to further this legislation. While the bill ultimately did not pass this session, the hearings served to educate legislators about this effective approach to fighting childhood hunger and generated great media attention around the issue. The momentum gained this legislative session will help future efforts around Breakfast after the Bell. This work would not be possible without the support of the United Way of King County, and we are forever grateful for their vision and drive to invest in all of this important work to improve the health and nutrition of children and families.