Ramata Diebate reflects on the action and reports back to the Got Green and the community…
January 12, 2012 was the day! It was a crisp but sunny January morning as Got Green headed to Olympia to try to save the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). Women in Green Organizer, Tammy Nguyen knew us all too well and had coffee and a variety of sugary donuts waiting for us before our departure. As the Got Green Van was warming up, we were still kind of quiet and just waking up. But once the coffee shots and donuts started to hit, we all started talking at once and taking pictures. I could see Jabari through the rearview mirror looking at our team with amusement in his eyes.
We spoke a little bit about our action plan; who we would meet and which shy ones of us would talk first, or even second or third. Everyone was shy except for Tammy who I have the feeling was worried she would be the only one talking all day. By the time we got to the steps of the beautiful State Capitol, the coffee had hit and was in full effect and no one was shy anymore! We were pumped and decided to all take turns to speak to the legislators. Miss Emma was like, “Of course I am not shy. I’m going to let them know exactly what is on my mind. It is time they hear us loud and clear!” Tammy sipped on her coffee and called Paul Benz, who told her that he was finding parking and would meet us inside. Emily and I looked at each other and we could see what the other was thinking, “Ok, here we go!”
Wonderful Paul Benz of the Faith Action Network spent most of his time taking us around, explaining who various people were and where we could eat and so forth. He was sweet and cheerful and really put us at ease.
Representative Eric Pettigrew for the 37th District (ours) serves on the House Ways and Means Committee which considers the operating budget and issues relating to state and local revenues such as increases and decreases in taxes, exemptions from taxes, and changes in the administration of taxes. After speaking with him about the importance of access to affordable and healthy food and how we were there to fight for the women in our community, the team got down to business and grabbed him for a picture. Tall and handsome, indeed! I think just about everyone was cheesing in that picture. My cheeks hurt afterward but I told myself, “Hey, I am not the kind of girl to get star-struck. Nope. No way.” Yes way.
When I spoke with Senator Adam Kline for the 37th district he had a great aura about him. We caught him in his spacious and sunlit office right before he was about to run out for a meeting but he did not seem irritated at all. I was nervous but I stated the reason our committee feels that saving the FMNP is so important. It is important because health doesn’t just affect this generation but also the next. Yes, I was getting a little ahead of myself and making it too beautiful and poetic, perhaps, but he listened. At one point he waited till I finished and took me back down his memory lane of going to the Farmer’s Market when he was little and how much he enjoyed it. He said that he will really try and save the FMNP but for us to keep in mind that he has many bills to consider. But his heart was in it. Later Paul Benz pulled me aside and told me that I did really well, although he could see my knees shaking! I’m glad he was paying attention.
Senator Lisa Brown, his Chair on the Senate side and assisted by The Senate Ways and Means Committee, has responsibility for developing operating and capital budgets and tax pension policy. Committee staff members also review and analyze the legislation with a fiscal impact, conduct revenue, and budget studies.
And here is some more sunshine to add to our post-winter-storm days- This is the letter that Senator Lisa Brown sent to Women in Green, “Thank you for your note and the photo. I have been a long-time supporter of the Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program and I will work to save it!” Yay!
Governor Gregoire’s response was less than satisfactory: She basically said that she was unable to meet with us and directed us to Policy Advisor Jason McGill to discuss our concerns regarding the FMNP with him. She is the one suggesting this cut. We will look at the positives and forget about the negative. Let’s continue to fight the good fight for the Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program and get involved by calling our legislators and volunteering with Got Green on this campaign!
TAKE ACTION NOW!
( 1 ) Call the Washington State Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000 and leave this message for your legislators:
“I support the Farmers Market Nutrition Program and oppose any cuts that would take healthy food dollars out of pockets of low income families. Vote against any cuts to Farmers Market Bucks which are good for families’ health and our planet.”
( 2 ) If you live in SE Seattle, you can call or email your legislators directly and tell your story of why you care about Farmers Market Bucks or the Columbia City Farmers Market.
* Representative Eric Pettigrew: 360-786-7838 email@example.com
*Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos: 360-786-7944 firstname.lastname@example.org
*Senator Adam Kline: 360-786-7944 email@example.com
Call: 206-290-5136 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org