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Louisiana Senate unanimously approves resolution for Summer EBT funds request

By Andrés Fuentes

KENNER, La. (WVUE) - Louisiana State Senators on Tuesday (April 30) voted unanimously on a resolution urging Governor Jeff Landry to apply for federal food funds for children over the summer. It’s a response to the Governor rejecting the money earlier this year, citing that other programs are in place to help feed children over summer break.

The Senate voted 34-0 on SCR 40 and the resolution now heads to the House for consideration. The federal Summer EBT Program grants eligible families an extra $40 per child monthly while school is out. Louisiana opting into the program would bring in $71 million in federal assistance to feed needy children.

“Over 45 states participate in the feeding program. In Louisiana, it would feed about 600,000 children,” Democrat State Senator Cleo Fields said. “Louisiana ranks number two in the nation. We have the highest poverty in the country... only second to Mississippi.”

In addition to the resolution, the House unanimously voted for $3.6 million in the state budget to apply for the Summer EBT Program.

Already, food pantries are seeing an influx of food-insecure families reaching out for help.

“The highest rate of poverty in our country is among women with children and they are also the majority of our clients,” Jenny Yanez said.

Yanez is the manager for the Islamic Circle of North America’s Louisiana branch in Kenner. Her staff and volunteers set up a food distribution site outside their office and run a food pantry for anyone in need.

”We have seen an increase of people suffering because of housing going up, food costs have gone up. So, we don’t know what this summer will look like,” she said.

In an email, the Governor’s Office says the state will rely on Seamless Summer Option, SNAP, TANF, FITAP and Child and Adult Care Food Program to provide more than four million meals over the summer.

Still, Dillard University Political Analyst Robert Collins says the GOP-controlled legislature going against the Governor’s wishes and approving the budget allocation and resolution is a sign that lawmakers want to satisfy voters more than Landry.

“I think this resolution is just a way to communicate with the governor that, ‘Ok we are going to give you the chance to give you the right thing and to go ahead and reinstate this money. If you don’t, we will look at some actual enforceable remedies.’”

Collins says while a resolution on its own is not enforceable, depending on how the Governor responds to the measure could dictate legislative action in the future, especially with expectations that the resolution will also pass in the House.

“I don’t expect a unanimous vote in the House, but I do expect a vast majority of the House to vote in favor of the resolution,” Collins said.

In a statement sent to FOX8, the Governor’s Director of Communications Kate Kelly wrote:

"Without this Summer EBT Program, Louisiana will serve over 1 million more meals in the summer of 2024 than in the summer of 2023. Louisiana will also serve 3 million more meals this summer than pre-pandemic summers. However, if the legislature through the budget process decides they want to prioritize the Summer EBT Program, then we certainly can respect their wishes."

Written by Andrés Fuentes for WVUE.


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