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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

Summer EBT food program estimated to help 644,000 kids

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Tuesday, January 30, 2024   

One in eight Tennesseans who have experienced hunger is a child. The Volunteer State is tackling childhood hunger this summer by opting into the new Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer program.

This initiative will allocate $77 million to provide food assistance for 644,000 low-income students across the state.

Signe Anderson, senior director of nutrition advocacy with the Tennessee Justice Center, said eligible children, primarily those receiving free or reduced-price lunch at school, would receive $40 per month, totaling $120 in food benefits over the summer break.

The state has until Feb. 15 to submit its plan for the program to the USDA for approval.

"When school's out, they lose access to those school meals again. So, summer EBT is a great resource for families to be able to have some extra money to support them during the summertime and connect kids to meals again," Anderson explained.

Anderson added that in the COVID public-health emergency, families with children eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school also received Pandemic EBT funding to help them afford groceries during school closures and summer vacation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Summer EBT will be a permanent program beginning this summer.

Anderson pointed out that a significant challenge for Tennessee will be securing funding to cover the administrative costs of the Summer EBT program implementation. In the meantime, she adds another hurdle may be identifying kids that are not directly certified for school meals.

"So those kids that are on SNAP, those kids whose families are part of TennCare or TANF, they all are directly certified to school meals, but the other kids, there will have to be a way that the state identifies how to connect them to Summer EBT," she continued.

Anderson said she is thankful for the commissioners at the Department of Education and the Department of Human Services and Gov. Bill Lee for opting into the Summer EBT program.

She added leading up the beginning of the year, close to 500 people signed a petition and sent letters to Tennessee officials, recommending that they adopt the Summer EBT program.


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