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Texas Refuses $350M in Summer Food Aid for Children, Citing Resource Shortage!


CheapNailsalonsnearmeIn a surprising move, Texas has opted out of a significant federal aid program designed to support low-income children during the summer months. The state is forgoing nearly $350 million in funds from the new Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program, a U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative approved by Congress in 2022. This decision has raised concerns among various stakeholders about the welfare of millions of Texas children who depend on school meals.

The Summer EBT program aims to bridge the nutritional gap for children during the school break by providing families with $40 per eligible child per month for three months. These funds, disbursed through electronic benefit transfer cards, are crucial for children who typically rely on school meals during the academic year. Despite its potential impact, Texas is one of only 16 states not participating in the program.

According to Thomas Vazquez, a spokesman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, the state acknowledges the importance of ensuring children’s nutritional support during summer. However, challenges such as the late receipt of the program’s final rules and a shortage of necessary staff and resources have hindered Texas’s participation this year.

This decision comes as a blow to many, especially considering that nearly two-thirds of children in Texas public schools qualify for free or reduced-price meals. The program, which has seen successful pilots in other states, is recognized for significantly reducing food insecurity among children.

The federal government offers full funding for the benefits and covers 50% of the administrative costs, leaving states to manage the remainder. The exact cost for Texas remains unclear, as the Health and Human Services Commission is still calculating the potential expense.

Allan Rodriguez, a USDA spokesperson, countered Texas health officials’ justification, stating that extensive guidance and support were provided well in advance of the program’s rollout. He emphasized the successful participation of 44 states, territories, and tribes in the program’s inaugural year.

The absence of Texas in this initiative is particularly concerning in light of the state’s ongoing struggles with processing Medicaid eligibility and food assistance claims. This has been compounded by the pandemic and high inflation rates, leading to increased demand for such services.

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Texas Refuses $350M in Summer Food Aid for Children, Citing Resource Shortage!

Advocates like Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas, express disappointment but show understanding towards the Health and Human Services Commission’s current focus on Medicaid and SNAP claims. There is hope, however, that Texas will join the food assistance program by 2025.

The decision not to participate in the Summer EBT program this year means a missed opportunity to alleviate hunger for approximately 2.9 million children in Texas. It underscores the critical balance between immediate administrative challenges and the long-term needs of a vulnerable population.

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