It is hard to believe that it has only been 45 days since the Washington State Legislature adjourned, and August means it is time to start framing out our public policy agenda. I have been on the coalition circuit this week meeting with partners about the big issues facing WithinReach and the health and human services sector–from health care reform, funding food stamps and a number of opportunities for more integrated approaches to immunizations, child development and breastfeeding. For a short session–it could be pretty exciting.
Each of these meetings had a common theme not only for WithinReach but for our partners and our communities. This is the “new normal.” I believe that we will continue to see a blurring of lines between the roles of government, nonprofits and the private sector. I know at times this seems scary, but I see some amazing possibilities forming. For instance: The Fresh Bucks program is a collaboration between the Chase Foundation, Seattle Foundation, Washington State Farmers Market Association and City of Seattle (and the brain child of City Councilman Richard Conlin). It is a great example of shifting the paradigm and creating triple-win opportunities. Families receiving food stamps and using their EBT card receive extra buying power by matching dollars up to the first $10 spent on each visit to a Farmer’s Market. I love this because our family farmers benefit, there are more healthy food choices for families and in turn, kids eat more fresh fruits and veggies. The fact that a private foundation and a bank are helping to insure this happens–even better!
I am also looking forward to visiting with Congressmen Smith and Congressman Larsen during their August recess– both are long time supporters of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also referred to as EBT or food stamps) and believers in the Affordable Care Act. They will have the opportunity to see the WithinReach Healthy Connections model in action. Starting on October 1 our team will help to assist families navigate the new benefits exchange and provide food resource referrals. We believe strongly in the connection between health and nutrition. We are delighted to not only sign up kids for health insurance through Apple Health for Kids – as we have done for 12 years — but now also their parents. We are convinced kids will get better care when their parents have insurance too. Our WithinReach Healthy Connections team wouldn’t be possible without private and public support of the Verdant Foundation, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, United Way of King County, United Way of Snohomish County, King County Public Health, Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement and Department of Health and Human Services.
I’m telling you, this “new normal” could be an amazing way to have great impact on the community.