NEWS GLEAMS | WA House Passes $28M in Nutrition Assistance; DOH Releases Maternal Mortality Review

A roundup of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!

curated by Vee Hua 華婷婷

✨Gleaming This Week✨

Photo depicting a yellow sign with black text that reads "We Welcome SNAP Benefits." Additional text at the bottom right corner depicts a vector-image of a filled grocery bag with the word "SNAP" written on it with the tagline "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Putting Healthy Food Within Reach."
Image attributed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (under a Creative Commons, CC BY-ND 2.0 license).

Washington State House Passes Bill to Provide $28M for Nutrition Assistance

On March 1, the federal government will be ending the additional funding it has been providing via their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which was temporarily boosted in 2020 to offer support during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Associated Press, 30 million Americans received this extra funding.

In response, the Washington State House of Representatives unanimously passed SHB 1784 on Feb. 27. The bill proposes $28 million in food assistance for Washington residents through July. The bill was introduced by Rep. Mia Gregerson (D-33) and will provide relief until the next state budget is passed.

“I introduced this bill with 25 co-sponsors, my fellow food fighters, to address hunger relief in our state,” Gregerson said via Washington State House Democrats press release. “Why is this necessary now? Starting in March our state faces a hunger cliff because emergency SNAP allotments will be ending.

“These emergency allotments were granted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but many people — seniors and disabled people on fixed incomes, as well as low-income families — rely on this extra money to get by. With food prices 13% higher now than they were this time a year ago, it was critical to move on this before the start of the next biennium,” she added.

The bill now moves to the Washington State Senate for consideration, then to Gov. Jay Inslee.

Screenshot depicting information related to maternal mortality in Washington State.
2014–2020 Maternal Deaths Factsheet from the Washington State Department of Health’s 2023 Maternal Mortality Review Report. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Department of Health.)

DOH Maternal Mortality Review Report Offers Recommendations to Reduce Preventable Pregnancy-Related Deaths

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has recently released its February 2023 Maternal Mortality Review Report, which reviews maternal deaths from 2017 to 2020, as well as findings based on cumulative data from 97 pregnancy-related deaths between 2014 and 2020. Such deaths are from any point during a pregnancy or up to one year after a pregnancy, including any chain of events that is initiated, including “unrelated condition(s) caused by the psychological effects of pregnancy.”

While Washington State’s maternal mortality rates are lower than elsewhere in the country, some communities experience disproportionately high rates due to inequities, discrimination, and socioeconomic factors. Some keys findings from the report, according to the DOH press release — which stresses that many such deaths are preventable — include:

  • Pregnancy-related mortality rates are greater for individuals over the age of 30.
  • American Indian and Alaska Native people experience higher maternal mortality rates than any other race/ethnic group. (Additional policy recommendations from the Indian American Health Commission, which address factors contributing to Native maternal mortality are included in an addendum to the DOH report.)
  • The leading underlying causes of pregnancy-related deaths were related to behavioral health conditions, predominantly by suicide and overdose (32%). Hemorrhage (12%) and infection (9%) were other common causes.
  • 80% of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable.

Mortality Review Panel (MMRP) was established within DOH by the Washington State Legislature in 2016. Upon review, they make recommendations on how to stop pregnancy-related preventable deaths. They are required to submit a report with data and recommendations to the Legislature every three years.

Read the full report via a downloadable PDF or visit on the DOH website for more public health-related information.

CAIR Seeks Responses to ‘Listening Survey for Muslim Community Building’

The national branch of the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is seeking responses to their 2023 Listening Survey for Muslim Community Building. Their objective is to gain a better understanding of the community they serve by gathering insight about American Muslim community members, including data about their values and interests. 

The survey is sponsored by additional organizations, including American Muslim Health Professionals, CAIR, Emgage, Inkerij Foundation, Muslim Coalition National, Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, Muslim Journal, and Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Take the survey via Google Forms or learn more on the CAIR website.

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