The first session of the 86th West Virginia Legislature was good for food security. While much of this year’s legislative session focused on tax and health care reforms, the charitable food network has a lot to celebrate when we look back at the legislative session.
The state legislature not only remained steadfast in its support of food banks by maintaining the $1 million community food program line item but included a new emergency food fund line item. In his State of the State, Governor Jim Justice furthered his support and efforts to make sure no West Virginian goes hunger and asked policymakers to do the same by supporting the creation of the Posey Perry Emergency Food Bank Fund named after Justice’s uncle who was a frequent volunteer at a near-by food pantry for many years. The Legislature passed its budget bill with the $10 million Posey Perry fund intact. Additionally, policymakers passed a $3.6 million supplemental appropriations to the West Virginia Department of Agriculture that frees up previously awarded USDA federal dollars. This supplemental appropriation helps MFB further its TEFAP Reach and Resiliency and Local Food Purchase Agreement grant work. Lawmakers also stood in opposition to several bills that would have made accessing food assistance more difficult. All in all, our state legislators stood with us, and worked to pass legislation that would help our neighbors who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and for that, we thank them.