In this edition: 

Welcome to October's Edition

By Shannon Martsolf

Voting.  It’s a constitutional right…. Right?  When you vote do you give it much thought?  Do you vote every year, or only the during the Presidential election cycles? Or maybe every other year for the congressional races? Voting is one of the most fundamental ways we can exercise our power and agency in a democracy – yet even in 2021 too many people are being disenfranchised by restrictive laws designed to suppress the vote.  For those who chose not to vote, maybe its apathy, or lack of understanding of what’s at stake.  This month’s edition of Root Causes explores the history and meaning of voting rights in the United States.  It highlights how Food Lifeline and community partners are working to “Get Out the Vote” and it shares the troubling narrative and historical timeline of voting rights since our country’s inception.  Please read each article, then make a plan, help a neighbor, and get out and exercise your right to vote on or before November 2!

Once you’ve voted, MarCom team has created a gif for our staff promoting that you Vote to End Hunger on your social media channels – download them here for Facebook and Instagram

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Defining the Term: Suffrage

By Tiffani Kaech-Freet (She/Her)

Suffrage, in representative government, the right to vote in electing public officials and adopting or rejecting proposed legislation.   

Resource: How the Suffrage Movement Betrayed Black Women - New York Times Article

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Help Us to Get Out the Vote

By Amanda Reeves

In order to achieve our mission to end hunger for tomorrow, we have to advocate for systemic change. That is why it is more important than ever for you to help us get out the vote for this upcoming election. When people show up to vote, elected officials are more likely to be responsive to the needs in their local jurisdictions – this is especially true when it comes to food insecurity.

The deadline for online and mail voter registrations was October 25th, but you can still register in person until November 2nd. Find your county elections department here.

Already registered to vote? Make sure you are #voteready – and encourage others in your household to do the same by:

  • Marking your calendar with a date and time to vote, and then submit your ballot. Remember if you are mailing your ballot, it must be postmarked no later than election day, Tuesday, November 2nd.
  • Dropping off your ballot at an in-person ballot drop box location. Check your local county elections office website for specific guidance on hours of availability.
  • Ensuring you know what local races and initiatives will appear on your ballot. Local voter pamphlets and other voting information can be located on the Secretary of State’s website.
  • Making a pledge to be a hunger issues voter by signing up with the Food Lifeline Advocacy team here

Here are some other key dates and deadlines to know about while you make a plan to vote:

  • October 15
    Start of 18-day voting period (through Election Day). Ballots are mailed out and Accessible Voting Units (AVUs) are available at voting centers.
  • October 25
    Online and mail registrations must be received 8 days before Election Day.
  • November 2
    Deadline for Washington State voter registration or updates (in person only).
  • November 2
    General Election Day!

Thank you in advance for being a regular voter! Your voice matters, and by working together we can #votetoendhunger this election season.

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Community Impact: League of Women Voters

By Amanda Reeves

The League of Women Voters is a federated organization with local, state and national organizational structures.  Members determine the policies and program of all League levels. Their vision since 1920, when the League of Women Voters was founded by leaders of the women’s suffrage movement. For 100 years, they have been a nonpartisan, activist, grassroots organization that believes voters should play a critical role in democracy. 

The League was officially founded in Chicago in 1920, just six months before the 19th amendment was ratified and women won the vote. Formed by the suffragists of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the League began as a "mighty political experiment" designed to help 20 million women carry out their new responsibilities as voters 

The League of Women Voters of the United States was first projected at the Jubilee Convention of the National American Women Suffrage Association in 1919. The League of Women Voters of Washington was organized the next year. Seattle and Tacoma were the first two local Leagues in the state. In the early days the League of Women Voters of Washington supported state legislation pertaining to protection of children in fields of labor, health and education. At the present time there are twenty-one local Leagues around the state. 

LWV of Washington is an organization fully committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in principle and in practice. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to the organization’s current and future success in engaging all individuals, households, communities, and policy makers in creating a more perfect democracy. 

They have committed to actively working to remove barriers to full participation in their organization regardless of gender, gender identity, ethnicity, race, native or indigenous origin, age, generation, sexual orientation, culture, religion, belief system, marital status, parental status, socioeconomic status, language, accent, ability status, mental health, educational level or background, geography, nationality, work style, work experience, job role function, thinking style, personality type, physical appearance, political perspective or affiliation and/or any other characteristic that can be identified as recognizing or illustrating diversity. 

Voter Portal -

Voter information –

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Voting Rights in the USA - A Perspective

By Gregory Whiting

In a society that is governed on the principles of democracy, the right to vote is a crucial component of the promises of democracy. By the definition of the word democracy, the ability to rule must be in the hands of the people. Voting is a crucial aspect of democracy. It is one of the most effective ways for the government to follow through on the promise to be controlled and influenced directly by the people. Voting bestows more than the right to be heard in American society.  It allows for people to shape their very destiny. They can vote for a school bond to pass or something as grand as a new leader for the nation as a whole. People vote on policies that have a variety of impacts on our society, especially for people who are economically suffering. 

The right to vote is a legal status that bestow legitimacy and reflects personhood in a democratic society.  Given that this nation has been built off of the exploitation of a tiered system of power and personhood, the right to vote has been a crucial marker of rights and status in the United State.  

The timeline below shown by Mando Ramos tells a lot about the process of developing legal agency in the United States. The process is gradual, episodic, tense, fraught, and not guaranteed. While this timeline is not exhaustive, it is an excellent primer for getting acquainted with the concept of suffrage in the United States. Voting Rights in the United States have been a moving target. In terms of understanding the connections between our anti-poverty work at Food Lifeline and the importance of voting, I would direct you to the Poor People’s Campaign and specifically to this page exploring the power of voting in ending poverty

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Voting Rights in the USA - A Brief Timeline

By Armando (Mando) Ramos 

June 21, 1788: Ratification of the US Constitution 

Elections left up to states. Only white 21-year-old land owning males can vote. Article One includes “three-fifths compromise.” 

July 9, 1868: 14th Amendment Ratified 

This amendment extends citizenship to born and naturalized males. It also puts an end to the “three-fifths compromise”. 

February 3, 1870: 15th Amendment Ratified 

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude". 

August 18, 1920: 19th Amendment Ratified 

This amendment gives women the right to vote. 

June 2, 1924: Indian Citizenship Act 

Native Americans are given citizenship and the right to vote. 

1943: Chinese Exclusion Act Ends 

1943 marks the end of a law enacted in 1882 that prohibited Chinese laborers from immigrating to the US. 

January 23, 1964: Civil Rights Act & 24th Amendment 

Civil rights act ensures that men and women age 21 and older may vote regardless of religion, race and education may vote. Ratification of 24th amendment eliminates poll taxes. 

August 6, 1965: Voting Rights Act 

This act suspends literacy tests and allows for federal enforcement of voting rights. 

July 1, 1971: 26th Amendment Ratified 

The 26th amendment lowers the voting age to 18. 

August 6, 1975: Voting Rights Act Renewed 

This act permanently banned literacy test. It also requires translated materials in areas with large populations of non-English speaking citizens. 

September 28, 1984: Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act 

This act requires that polling places must be accessible to people with disabilities. 

October 29, 2002: Help America Vote Act 

This act was a consequence of the 2000 election. It required that states overhaul their voting machines, registration processes and poll worker training.

In 2021, 19 states have passed restrictive laws making it harder to vote, disproportionately disenfranchising the poor and communities of color.

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Food Lifeline Commits to Growing Access to Culturally Appropriate Food

Content provided by Tiffani Kaech-Freet, Ryan Scott, Ellen Brown, Dominique Sagiao, Matthew Svilar, and Heather Huling

Food Lifeline was awarded a $1.6 million contract with the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) for the purpose of procuring and distributing culturally appropriate foods to food insecure individuals as part of the Washington State coordinated food security response to the COVID-19 crisis and recovery period. This contract started July 1 and concluded September 30 and gave us the opportunity to further develop Food Lifeline’s approach to procuring, distributing, and increasing access culturally appropriate foods. We focused distribution of these foods to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) led and serving agencies and communities.
This funding provided us the opportunity to purchase items such as teff flour, cactus leaves, Anaheim peppers, water chestnuts, sesame oil, achiote spice, Algerian dates, a variety of meat and non-meat proteins, and many other fresh and shelf-stable foods. We experienced very high demand for these culturally appropriate foods across our network. Our partners have been excited to see Food Lifeline offer these products, and we received many glowing reviews.
One agency partner shared, “In the name of all families, we want to thank you all for the effort in bringing the CAF into this first round, it is amazing, we feel heard and spoiled having all the appropriate food on our kitchen and plates. MUCHAS GRACIAS!
White Center Food Bank highlighted their experience as well.

The wide variety of foods we provided through this round of funding allowed us to collect additional data on demand across our network. Halal meats and frozen shrimp were flagged as being extremely desirable by multiple agency partners. Masa, teff flour, halal meats, and frozen fish were consistently in high demand for our Mobile Food Program customers.

In our Mobile Food Program we observed a steady increase in demand for culturally appropriate foods over the course of the contract. We made our partners and their customers aware of this initiative in the weeks leading up to the program period and found there was significant demand from the start.  Product demand continued to increase as we offered additional culturally appropriate food items for these guests.  
Before receiving this funding, culturally appropriate foods were scarce within Food Lifeline’s Mobile Food Program sites and in the agency network.  These culturally appropriate food items are rarely available via donated food streams and many of our agencies lack the financial and/or sourcing capacity to purchase these foods.  Therefore, they rely exclusively on Food Lifeline as their source for this culturally appropriate food.  While the MFP had been taking advantage of increased purchasing capacity due to COVID-19 relief funding, our purchased foods tended to initially lean toward shelf-stable items. 
An additional element of this contract included Food Lifeline prioritizing purchasing through food vendors that are considered small businesses, Washington-based, and/or Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) owned. We partnered with very reliable vendors who were able to meet the high demands of this grant, most of whom fit the contract criteria. However, we found that many of the vendors we contacted to purchase food through this grant were unable to provide product in needed quantities. In some cases, the implications of such large sales for small businesses meant that end of year sales data would be skewed and it would end up costing them too much in taxes.  These businesses often referred us to their larger distributors that did not necessarily fit the criteria given in this grant. 
It is also important to note that a lot of culturally appropriate produce is not grown in conditions like our region so partnering with local distributors who have partnerships with producers around the world is the only option. Due to the time of year that this award was received, we did not have the opportunity to negotiate guaranteed contacts with local farmers and culturally appropriate food producers. As a result, we were reliant on existing partnerships between distributors and local producers to secure locally grown produce available during this time. 

Demand for these culturally appropriate foods remained high throughout this funding cycle, even more so than other food distribution channels and product offerings.  We look forward to continuing our efforts to procure both purchased and donated culturally appropriate foods to meet the needs of communities we serve! We will keep centering the needs of people experiencing hunger and ensure the culturally appropriate foods we distribute are what they desire.

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Breaking Bread with Katie Kowalsky

By Katie Kowalsky 

Growing up, there was rarely a time when there wasn’t some sort of homemade baked good waiting on the counter or being cooked in the oven. My mom learned how to bake bread from scratch from her grandmother, and when I was old enough, she started passing down her knowledge to me. Although, as a kid I was much more interested in learning how to make anything that could be dipped, smothered, or loaded up with chocolate.

With my mother and I both testing new recipes, there was more than enough to frequently share with our neighbors. As a thank you, one of our neighbors would drop off fresh-grown produce from his garden, which every year included literal buckets of zucchini. To keep with the tradition of sharing, and also to combat the zucchini that was “practically bursting our freezer door open,” my mom started making loaves of zucchini bread to give back to our neighbor, as well as our friends and family.

This zucchini bread recipe has become a staple in our family, and I hope it becomes one for yours as well.  Loaves keep well in the freezer if, like my mom and I, you tend to make several batches at once.

Mom’s Zucchini Bread
Makes 2 full-sized loaves

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 3 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F
  2. Grease 2 full-size loaf pans.
  3. Mix together ingredients in order given and pour into prepared loaf pans.
  4. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaves comes out clean.
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Affinity Group Updates

White Accountability Group
By Lisa Galvin
We are making some adjustments to the White Accountability Group meeting time and length to provide space for deeper conversation and learning.  We will now meet every other Wednesday for 60 minutes at noon. We encourage all staff who identify as white to carve out space in your day to attend these meetings whenever possible.
Looking forward to seeing you there!

Black Indigenous and People of Color Group
by Alicya Pearson
Black Indigenous and People of Color meetings are every other Thursday at 10-11am, starting January 7, 2021. These meetings are drop-in/drop-out, so you are welcome to join at any point during the meeting or leave early. Hope to see you there!

Standing Agenda:

  1. Black Indigenous and People of Color Mentorship Program Update—10:05-10:15 AM
    1. Review of Timeline & Upcoming Deliverables
  2. Discussion (topics TBD by Black Indigenous and People of Color Affinity Leadership)—10:15-11:00 AM
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DEI Sub-Committee Updates 

Steering Committee: by Gregory Whiting, A revised charter for the Affinity Groups (all of them) is being developed by Steering committee.  An initial (potentially final) draft will be approved and shared by the end of the next Steering Committee meeting on 10/27
Curriculum Committee: by Gregory Whiting We are currently going over the Learning Concept A, reviewing the process of learning the information and determining how to make this information more accessible to staff.  We are also actively seeking out people to serve as a co-chair to the fantastic Pam Lim.

Communications Committee: by Shannon Martsolf:  The communications committee is actively soliciting contributors for the monthly publication – you can submit ideas, guest write articles, write a personal story, submit a recipe for “Breaking Bread” and more.  No long term commitment needed – one time, or join the committee, we’d love to make your voice heard!
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Become a Contributor

Everyone has a great story to tell. Are you interested in being a contributor to Root Causes? Through a variety of mediums – writing, being interviewed, on video, the communications subcommittee wants to hear from you. Contact Amanda or Shannon to learn more.
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