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WA Healthplanfinder Gets a Makeover: 6 things you need to know!

By Emma Lieuwen and Irina Verevkina
WithinReach Bridge to Basics Outreach team, AmeriCorps
Open enrollment began November 15, 2014 and will continue until February 15, 2015. If you have not yet enrolled for health coverage, now is the time! Even if you signed up last year, your options may have changed, so be sure to review your plan.
If you have any questions about your coverage, need help navigating Washington Healthplanfinder’s website, or would like help with your application, please call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.
If you would rather talk to someone in person, call the Family Health Hotline to find out where our team will be in the community.
Recently, Washington Healthplanfinder’s website got a new look! When you go to wahealthplanfinder.org the homepage looks a little different. The new look was designed to make finding information about enrolling in free or low-cost health coverage easier. Here are six changes that we think are important:
Change #1: New look for the Homepage
The sign in button is now located in the upper right corner. Additionally, there is now a designated section on the homepage to directly access Apple Health Renewals and Enrollment in the middle of the page.
Forgot your username or password? Simply click the green “Sign in” button and you will be able to retrieve it, or call the Healthplanfinder Customer Support Center at 1-855-923-4633.
Change #2: New Application Questions
“Is any member on this application a child 26 or older seeking adult disabled dependent coverage?”
Answer “yes” to this question if one of your dependents is an adult child with a disability; meaning, they cannot work due to their disability and are financially dependent on you. How this question is answered won’t affect your eligibility for Apple Health.
“Is any household member on this application currently enrolled in Medicare?”
If someone is covered by Medicare, they are likely ineligible for Qualified Health Plans and Apple Health.
Change #3: Eligibility Status Screen
After submitting your application, you will be taken to the Eligibility Status screen. This page provides the following information for each member of your household:

  • Eligibility status (Approved, Ineligible, Conditional, etc)
  • The program name (for example, Washington Apple Health)
  • Coverage dates
  • Next steps


Change #4: Pending Coverage and Document Upload
If you, or someone on your application, has a “pending coverage” eligibility status, you may be required to submit documents for additional verification. You can click the “upload documents” button to upload files. If you are prompted to submit documents, do so as soon as possible to avoid losing coverage.


Change #5: Reporting Changes
If you need to report a change on your application, you can now see how the change affects your eligibility. This is an improvement from how change reporting used to go, which required you to select and purchase a plan if you tried to make a change.
Change #6: Plan-palooza
This year, there will be more Qualified Health Plans to choose from. Be sure to shop around, consider your needs, and explore your options to make sure you’re getting the best plan for your needs and budget.
More questions? Call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 today!


Tags: Apple Health Renewals   Family Health Hotline   Free-Low Cost Health Coverage   health insurance   Open Enrollment   Washington HealthPlanFinder   Washington state   

An Unusual Birthday Gift!

WithinReach’s mission is to make the connections Washington families need to be healthy. Recently, my spouse and I did something that isn’t usually associated with that idea. Our daughter, Mari, turned 15 recently, and we gave her an unusual birthday gift. With the help of Jamie Clausen, attorney at Phinney Estate Law , my spouse and I updated our wills. Though this was clearly not on Mari’s birthday wish list, it was a powerful gift nonetheless. Making sure our children will be taken care of, in the event something happens to us, is one more way we parents help ensure the health and safety of the next generation.

I met Jamie Clausen some years ago and was immediately impressed by the thoughtful way she approached and approaches, what is for most of us, a daunting task. Considering it is based on our worst collective nightmare – not being here for our children— Jamie does an excellent job of taking care of our families.

Jamie also encourages clients who are updating their wills to consider using the process to support other things they care deeply about. Any client who includes a gift of $500 or more in his/her will to one of Phinney Estate Law’s charities of choice (including WithinReach), receives a significant discount. In fact, Phinney Estate Law is so committed to proactive planning that they dedicate at least 25% of their practice to pro bono services and free classes.

We both included gifts to WithinReach in our wills (of course!), and were rewarded with the discount; though, the best reward of all is knowing that Mari will be taken care of, no matter what.

Is it time to create or update your will? If so, consider calling Jamie at Phinney Estate Law. You will be giving yourself and your family a valuable gift. And, if you decide to give towards one of the “charities of choice”, please keep WithinReach in mind!

*Find other legal services in your area by going to our legal resources page through the ParentHelp123 website.


Tags: Jamie Clausen   Legal Services   ParentHelp123   Phinney Estate Law   Washington state   Wills   WithinReach   

Meet our New AmeriCorps Team!

Introducing our 2014-2015 AmeriCorps Team:
Meet WithinReach’s newest in-person outreach team! We asked our team members to send us a selfie and to tell us something they liked about themselves and how they felt it would be a strength for this years service. In the spirit of Halloween, we also asked about their favorite childhood costume with a picture if they had one.

 “Many of my interests revolve around social justice, health equity, and wellness promotion, which I’m hoping to include as much as possible during this year of service and as I pursue a graduate degree in public health next fall.”

Hometown: Kalamazoo, Michigan
Education: BA in Psychology & English from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

My favorite childhood Halloween costume: My favorite costume came at the ripe age of four in the form of a homemade, extremely-fierce lion.




“Something I like about myself is my ability to learn from experience. I am aware that I don’t have all the answers to the universe but I will definitely try to learn about it as much as I can. The good and bad in life can be learning experiences that help in getting a better perspective of the person I want to be in the future.”

Hometown: Lima, Peru (San Borja District); Lynnwood, Washington
Education: BA in English Literature and Political Science with an emphasis on human rights from the University of Washington

My favorite childhood Halloween costume: Little Red Riding Hood. I feel I could trick or treat a lot more than I could later on! One of my great memories.




“Throughout my educational career I found enjoyment in learning and discovery. This year at Within Reach, a genuine love of learning and growing will help me as I work in the community with a new set of skills.”

Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Education: BS in Pre-Healthcare Professions Kinesiology & BA in Spanish from Western Washington University.

My favorite childhood Halloween costume:    I was pretty proud of a hippie costume I had around 8 or 9.




“Something I like about myself is my compassionate nature which will be a strength for me in my new position at WithinReach. Demonstrating compassion will allow me to relate and effectively communicate with individuals from underserved/underprivileged environments.”

Hometown: Hilo, Hawai`i
Education: BA in Business, minor in Chemistry from University of Puget Sound; BS in Biology from Seattle University

My favorite childhood Halloween costume: A werewolf. However, the only picture I was able to quickly obtain was me as a firefighter:




“I think that I’m very empathetic and am able to easily connect with clients. I also like how having a working knowledge of systems & institutions has helped me to have a broader understanding of some of the barriers my clients face.”

Hometown: Baku, Azerbaijan; Seattle, Washington
Education: BA in Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies & Political Science

My favorite childhood Halloween costume: Barney. It was the only time I got to pick out my own costume. Every other year of my childhood I was a clown courtesy of my cousin’s hand-me-downs.




“I think that my abilities as a systems thinker will help me greatly in my AmeriCorps position at WithinReach.”

Hometown: Olympia, Washington
Education: BA in Food Justice from New York University

My favorite childhood Halloween costume: I was once an adorably terrifying clown for Halloween, which embodied what was probably the height of my Halloween spirit and is thus my favorite costume from my younger years.




“I like my ability to relate and chat with many people. I find that having a smile on my face can reflect onto others.”

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Education: BA in Health Sciences from Virginia Tech

My favorite childhood Halloween costume: My favorite go to Halloween costume as a child was a witch. I was a witch four years in a row.




“Something I like about myself is my interest in working with people—it definitely helps to keep me grounded during outreach. Whether a site is really busy or really slow, connecting with individuals—clients, the site staff, my AmeriCorps team members—makes the experience very meaningful for me.”

Hometown: Ellensburg, Washington
Education: BA in English from Reed College; MA in English Literature from the University of New Mexico; Post-bac work in pre-health studies at Portland State University

My favorite childhood Halloween costume: A princess dress I wore in eighth grade. I do not even know the source of that garment—friend, family, foe—but wearing it, I felt grand. While I have no evidence of that costume, I do have a photo of a very short version of myself with a childhood friend.



Laura “Being raised in a low income immigrant family whose primary language is Spanish, I believe I can relate to many clients who face language and at times cultural barriers. I love the idea of being a bridge between worlds because at an early age I was that bridge for my parents.”

Hometown: Sunnyside, Washington
Education: BA in Medical Anthropology and Global Health from the University of Washington

My favorite childhood Halloween costume: I remember putting on my mother’s lipstick, eye shadow, and blush, calling myself a princess. So technically I was a very laid back princess in sweatpants, tennis shoes, and sweater.



Noelle“Something that I like to do is listen to people’s stories. I find the events and circumstances that brought people to where they are at the time I meet them so interesting. I think the combination of these things would be a strength for the outreach component of my position at WithinReach.”

Hometown: Wheatland, California
Education: BA in Molecular Cell Biology with an emphasis in Neurobiology and a minor in Music from UC Berkeley

My favorite childhood Halloween costume: Princess Jasmine from Aladdin. It was the first costume that I chose for myself and I was very excited about the sequined headband with the half veil that went over your eyes.


Tags: AmeriCorps   benefit assistances   Community Health   Public Health      Washington state   WithinReach   

Policy Workshop: Breakfast After the Bell

By: Laird F. Harris, WithinReach Board President / Harris & Smith Public Affairs
Last week, WithinReach board members participated in a policy workshop to learn and discuss the important role that public policy plays in our theory of change. At the policy workshop, our board got a clear (if not scary) sense of the budget challenges that the Legislature will have to solve next year, as well as, ideas about how we can pursue our policy goals in a constrained fiscal environment. Essentially, the need to fully fund K-12 education as mandated in the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, will require increased spending of more than $3 billion. If Initiative 1351 reducing class sizes passes, as much as another $2 billion will be needed.

It is unclear how the Legislature will act to fund K-12, but it is very clear to WithinReach and its partners that hungry kids can’t learn well. WithinReach is working with partner organizations to develop and promote Breakfast After the Bell Legislation; that will require a nutritious breakfast to be offered as part of the school day in high needs schools, just like lunch. There is early bi-partisan support for this initiative that has proven to successfully increase participation in school breakfast. We will keep you posted about the measure’s progress.

In addition to our senior policy manager, Carrie Glover, and our lobbyist, Erin Dziedzic, the board heard very informative presentations from Katie Mosehauer with Washington Appleseed, and Julie Peterson with the Prevention Alliance. The board was very impressed by the willingness and ability of like-minded organizations to set priorities and agree to work together. The state faces a huge budget challenge with high risks to programs benefiting families and children. The breadth and strength of the coalitions and community partners we work with will assure that our voices are heard ….will assure that the voices of the families we serve are heard!


Tags: Breakfast After the Bell   Child Development   Education   food   Hungry Kids   k-12   Legislature   Nutrition   Prevention Alliance   State Budget   Washington Appleseed   Washington state   Washington State Policy   

Our Best Work, Fearlessly Every Day

I was inspired by a recent Seth Godin blogpost entitled “The Shortlist”.
I encourage you to read the brief post, but in essence, Seth writes about what it takes to be on the shortlist. He refers to the shortlist as the respected, admired – ‘obvious choice’ – individuals or groups who are always top-of-mind when you want to get something done.
The question he asks is: ‘how do you get on the shortlist’? I realize now, our staff asks that question every day – how can we be on the shortlist among policymakers, how do we stay on the shortlist of our major donors, and are we on the shortlist of hunger relief or immunization thought leaders locally and nationally? More generally, is WithinReach top of mind when it comes to family health?
Seth concludes that people don’t make it on the shortlist just because they deserve it, or even because they are talented, or solely because they are lucky. Instead, he writes:
“No, the shortlist requires more than that. Luck, sure, but also the persistence of doing the work in the right place in the right way for a very long time. Not an overnight success, but one that took a decade or three. The secret of getting on the shortlist is doing your best work fearlessly for a long time before you get on the list, and (especially) doing it even if you’re not on the list.”
I think this is where we stand nearly three decades into our work – doing our best work, fearlessly, and slowly becoming an ‘obvious choice’. In some areas of our work, I think we are on the short list, in others we need to keep building our work and the relationships that support it. At the end of the day, we most want to be on the short list of the families we serve throughout Washington. So, we march on doing our best work, fearlessly every day.


Tags: Family Health   Hunger relief   Immunization   Policy   Seth Godin   Washington state   

Expanding the frame: global-local vaccine links

Outside of WithinReach, I am also a faculty member at the University of Washington, where I will be teaching Global Health 101 this fall. In preparing to teach this course for the first time, I have been re-grounding myself in the interventions that have created—or have the potential to create—enduring health on a global scale. From clean water and sanitation to the education of women and unrestricted access to family planning resources, global health successes stem from making basic services accessible to all free of charge. Vaccines are integral to this story. Even I, as a person who spends his days focused on promoting immunization, sometimes forget how powerfully vaccines have altered the course of human history.
The American surge in health associated with vaccines began more than sixty years ago, and thus isn’t as noticeable today, but we too have witnessed remarkable advances in health thanks to vaccines—results that are yet to be fully translated across the globe.

Here are some broad statistics that make the case for vaccines:

  • Vaccines save 3 million lives and $42 billion globally per year (3)
  • 1.5 million children die annually globally from vaccine preventable diseases (2)
  • Smallpox claimed between 300 and 500 million lives before it was eliminated thanks to a vaccine (2)
  • The World Health Organization has said that “the two public health interventions that have had the greatest impact on the world’s health are clean water and vaccines.” (4)
Washington State takes exceptional leadership when it comes to vaccines. Founded largely with funding from the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) has spent over $4.5 billion to immunize nearly five hundred million children, “raising the immunization rate among children in low-income countries to 79 percent—an all-time high” (1). This effort alone has saved 5 million lives since 2000, so we’re definitely trending in the right direction. Considering the resource and infrastructure limitations in many parts of the world, that 79% of children in low-income countries are immunized speaks to the value of vaccines from the perspective of governments. Coordinating vaccination, especially supply lines, handling, storage, and, of course, delivery is a challenging task, but one the global community has committed to addressing because vaccines have such transformative power. Washington should be proud of our contributions to vaccines globally, but we must also refocus locally.
Just because we in the United States are removed (mostly) from the days of mass illness and death associated with infectious disease does not mean we should let down our guard; rather, histories like these should compel us to keep focused on saving lives through this safe and cost-effective means of promoting health—at home and abroad.
(1) Farmer, P. et al. (2013). Reimaging Global Health: An Introduction. Berkeley, University of California Press: 306.
(2) History of Vaccines: http://www.historyofvaccines.org/
(3) The Immunization Action Coalition’s Timeline page: http://www.immunize.org/timeline/
(4) The World Health Organization’s Vaccines page: http://www.who.int/topics/vaccines/en/

Tags: GAVI   global health   health promotion   immunizations   preventable diseases   vaccines   VaxNorthwest   Washington state   

How Help Me Grow Supports Washington State’s Early Learning Initiatives

Co-written with Keri Foster, Help Me Grow Family Engagement Specialist, AmeriCorps VISTA
Washington State is committed to supporting early learning for all children. We know that kindergarten readiness is an issue in our state. According to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), only 44% of students showed up to their first day of kindergarten ready to learn (OSPI, 2005). The Washington State Early Learning Plan identifies specific strategies that support early learning professionals to increase their quality of care and interactions with children to improve outcomes for children in school and throughout their lifespan. At WithinReach, our Help Me Grow program is supporting the state’s efforts by joining with community partners who are making early learning a focus. Screening for healthy child development is happening more and more during wellness visits at the doctors, in child care settings, and preschools. We are stepping up to help our partners increase their screening efforts and quality by helping families access community-based resources.
For example, we are partnering with the Washington Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to support primary care physicians to conduct regular screening and ensure families get connected to resources that support their children. We are also partnering with local preschools and child care sites to explore ways to support staff and parents to make screening a regular onsite activity. In preschool and child care settings we are also helping to facilitate the follow-up conversations where parents receive feedback on their child’s development. When we partner with professionals who are serving children, we can have a greater impact. Good health, strong families, and supportive learning experiences are all needed to enable children to succeed in school and life.

Kelly Smith

Bio: Kelly Smith is the new Help Me Grow Program Manager. She brings her passion for building strong families and supporting healthy kids. Before coming to WithinReach, she spent eight years working to address homelessness in Washington State by working to ensure homeless families have the resources they need to thrive. Prior to that, she worked at the YMCA at a drop-in center for teens.

For more information about the Help Me Grow program, call our WithinReach Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or visit Parenthelp123.org


Tags: Child Development   Developmental Screening   Help Me Grow   kindergarten ready   OSPI   School readiness   Washington Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics   Washington state   

A Cancer-Preventing Vaccine!

If you could give your child a vaccine to prevent cancer, would you? That’s exactly what HPV vaccine does, yet uptake of HPV vaccine is distressingly low in the United States. While Washington does slightly better than the national average, completion of the HPV series (3 doses of vaccine) in girls in our state stands at just 43.5%. To put this in perspective at the national level, for each year that we do not achieve 80% coverage for the vaccine (The U.S. is currently around 30%), 4,400 girls will get cervical cancer and 1,400 of them will die from cancer—this despite the fact that we have an HPV vaccine.
This is why WithinReach is excited to be partnering with the American Academy of Pediatrics to disseminate the CDC’s You Are the Key to Cancer Prevention communication toolkit. HPV stands for human papillomavirus, a virus that almost all unvaccinated individuals will get in their lifetimes because it spreads so easily. HPV can cause several types of cancer, including oropharyngeal (mouth and throat) cancers and genital cancers in both men and women. By preventing infection with the most carcinogenic strains of HPV virus, the HPV vaccine has the power to prevent these cancers. According to the CDC, “Low HPV vaccination rates are leaving another generation of boys and girls vulnerable to devastating HPV cancers. Vaccination could prevent most of these cancers.”
In the coming months, WithinReach will be educating providers throughout the state about HPV communication through Grand Rounds presentations at local hospitals. We will be sharing HPV statistics and the latest communication science with providers. With new tools like the CDC’s You Are the Key to Cancer Prevention toolkit that we’re disseminating, WithinReach is proud to be supporting an effort that will hopefully increase immunization rates and decrease the number of young people in our state who will get cancer.
Health communication is one of the most challenging topics we health researchers face…and yet the beauty of science is that it allows us to finesse our approach to meet the public’s needs. We have evolved our approach to HPV prevention to focus on cancer prevention. Not incidentally, this is the reason our immunization work always draws from an evidence base of sound science.
If you are interested in learning more, please join us on the morning of August 21st at Seattle Children’s Hospital. You can also gather more information at the parenthelp123.org website. Furthermore, WithinReach intends to stay focused on HPV long after this grant ends, so stay tuned for future developments! And remember, girls and boys should be immunized against HPV…both spread the disease and both can fall victim to associated cancers.

Tags: Cancer Prevention   CDC   HPV   immunizations   ParentHelp123   vaccines   Washington state   

Special Appearance: Summer Meals Site Visit

July 15: Heritage Park in Renton

A crowd of kids descended on Renton School District’s Summer Meals site at Heritage Park on a random Tuesday in July, expecting nothing more than a tasty free lunch. Imagine their surprise when they found Seahawks tackle Russell Okung serving lunch! Russell passed out sack lunches filled with hoagie sandwiches, corn & bean salad, carrots, chocolate milk & juice; and then stayed to sign autographs and take pictures with the kids.

Renton’s Summer Meals program, sponsored by Renton School District, has been operating in many of the same sites for six years. Kira Acker, Nutrition Services Manager for the district, says that this is one reason why the program is so successful at bringing kids and families back year after year. Kira reaches kids where they live, learn and play by partneriRaceng with the City of Renton’s Recreation Division (parks), Renton Housing Authority, apartment complexes, a church, several schools, and even the Salvation Army – to offer Summer Meals at 17 sites throughout Renton.

As kids finished eating, one brave boy asked Russell “Do you think you’re faster than me?” To which Russell replied “You want to race?” The Super Bowl Champion proceeded to lose a race, and win the hearts, of three young fans, who will remember this day forever. Thank you Russell, for making Summer Meals fun for kids, and bringing more awareness to this program that helps lesser known champions like Kira, fill the tummies of hungry kids all summer long.

Tags: hunger   Russell Okung   Seattle Seahawks   summer meals   Washington state   

Peabody’s Summer Meals Road Trip Log

July 11: Walla Walla
Angela Potts has coordinated the Summer Recreation Programs for kids through the City of Walla Walla Department of Parks and Recreation for 10 years. During that time, Angela has developed a relationship with Walla Walla Public Schools to provide free lunches for kids in parks, schools, and the local YMCA.

Lunch is served to all the kids who sign up for Parks & Recreation summer programs, but also to any kids who drop in from surrounding neighborhoods. And the lunches aren’t the only thing that’s free. The City of Walla Walla is able to offer all kids FREE enrollment in Parks & Recreation programs for the summer. (To enroll: Parents sign their kids up at any Walla Walla summer meals park site by filling out a short form the first day they bring their kid in). What a fabulous service to busy families, and a great way to keep kids active, having fun, and full of delicious food all summer long!Photo

On a beautiful warm day in July, we visited Pioneer Park and Jefferson Park, two of the 17 Summer Meals sites that Angela coordinates. Kids munched on bean & cheese burritos with whole wheat tortillas, carrot sticks and apples. And in just a week or so lunches will include fruits and vegetables from local farms! One teen volunteer with the program said “I came here as a kid, and now I volunteer to help with the summer program. How easy is it to play with kids in the park all day? I hope to get a job doing this someday.”

Thank you Angela and City of Walla Walla, for consistently offering such a great program, and an opportunity for kids to be inspired, and become role models for the next generation!


Tags: hunger   summer meals   Walla Walla   Washington state   

Full Circle: The Power of Summer Meals

Last Friday, several of us from WithinReach took part in an event to launch the Summer Meals Program. The event was hosted by Jefferson Community Center on Beacon Hill in Seattle. Like other community centers, schools and parks across the state, Jefferson Community Center operates a Summer Meals site, where kids and teens from local day camps and the surrounding neighborhood can eat free, healthy meals through the summer.

The event was super fun! In addition to our friends from the City of Seattle and United Way of King County, Seattle Seahawk football player Bruce Irvin, and Blitz were in the crowd. After the program was officially launched and the kids had eaten a healthy lunch, it was time for pictures and autographs with Bruce and Blitz.

You can be sure we didn’t miss our chance to snap a few photos ourselves! When I asked Bruce Irvin if we could see his World Champion ring, he took it off and let us try it on and take pictures of it – how crazy is that! I feel almost famous just saying I’ve HELD a Super Bowl ring!

This was all very exciting, but it was actually an impressive young woman, named Temesgen Melashu, who reminded me of the power of summer meals. I noticed Temesgen enthusiastically inviting kids into the line for lunch, and making sure they sanitized their hands before picking out their meal.

SM_KickOff_Kay_Blog-251As we chatted, I learned that Temesgen works for the City of Seattle as a Summer Meals Site Monitor, helping sites provide the best program possible for kids. She told me that she loves the Summer Meals program, not only because she sees how happy the kids are eating the meals, but because she remembers how much the program meant to her when she was younger.

She said, “working with the Summer Meals program is sort of full circle for me – I came to sites like this when I was growing up. I know from my own experience how important these meals are”. I asked Temesgen what she will do when her summer work is over. She told me that she is headed to Seattle Pacific University in the Fall to study Communications or Sociology, with the eventual goal of getting her Master of Public Health degree.

For me, that’s full circle. I looked around as we spoke and realized that the room at Jefferson Community Center was filled with Temesgen Melashus – 100 or more young kids with amazing potential to learn, grow, and lead. And, the nutritious food they eat through the Summer Meals program is key to helping them realize this potential.

Bruce Irvin told the kids that being a professional athlete and a new dad has made him realize more than ever how important it is to eat good, healthy food. He said, “who knows, maybe there is a 1st or 2nd draft NFL player right here in this room?!” Yes – from Summer Meals to Seattle Pacific University, or Summer Meals to the Seahawks – it’s a BIG WIN!



Tags: summer meals   Washington state   

Spread the Word about Summer Meals for Kids!

Last week, a number of amazing opportunities came to fruition for us around Summer Meals Program outreach. First, Liz Jaquette and I were the guests on the Clear Channel radio public affairs show. For 30 minutes, we got to share lots of information about the Summer Meals Program and the relationship between inadequate nutrition and summer learning loss.

Second, we partnered with Safeway and the Seahawks to develop a PSA for the Summer Meals program. KIRO shot the PSA and it will air on KIRO 7 throughout the summer. Russell Okung, the Seahawks All-Star Offensive Lineman, volunteered to star in the PSA with four ridiculously cute elementary school kids. Note how thrilled we all look to be meeting Russell in our photo op with him.

The goal of both media opportunities is to get the word out that the Summer Meals Program is the extension of the School Meals Program throughout the summer and program sites will be serving meals as soon as the school year ends. We’ve been able to build these phenomenal partnerships because when we share how poorly utilized this program is and how significant an issue hunger is in our state, people can’t believe it. The following are the facts that close the deal when you are asking for partners to help:

  • Washington State is the 15th hungriest state in the nation.
  • Yet we have one of the lowest participation rates in the Summer Meals Program nationally. Only 10% of the kids who qualify for free and reduced price meals and eat school meals during the school year continue to participate in the program during the summer.
  • There are more than 800 Summer Meals Program sites throughout Washington.

We are doing a really bad job of feeding our neediest kids during the summer.

Why? Focus group research has found that the top barrier is lack of awareness. Less than half of the families that eat school meals during the school year realize that the program continues during the summer months. And for those that know it exists, most don’t know where to go. That’s where we come in. WithinReach has the Summer Meals Program site information for the entire state. Families can call us, use our site search tool on ParentHelp123.org, or text us.

We need everyone to help. Please get the word out in your community.


Tags: Safeway   Seattle Seahawks   summer meals   Washington state   

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