Nebraska Gov. Pillen reverses rejection of federal child food funding after meeting with students

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Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen reversed people connected Monday and announced that nan authorities will judge astir $18 cardinal successful national backing to thief provender quiet children complete nan summertime break.

Pillen announced successful December that nan authorities would cull nan funding, defending his position by stating, "I don’t judge successful welfare." But he came nether aggravated pressure, including from immoderate members of his party, to judge nan money.

At a news convention Monday, Pillen said he decided to judge money allocated done nan U.S. Department of Agriculture aft gathering pinch a group of precocious schoolhouse students from astir Nebraska who visited nan authorities Capitol this month.

NEBRASKA GOV. PILLEN'S REJECTION OF FEDERAL CHILD FOOD FUNDING SPARKS LEGISLATIVE ACTION

"They talked astir being hungry, and they talked astir nan summertime USDA programme and, depending upon access, erstwhile they'd get a sack of food," Pillen said. "And from my seat, what I saw there, we person to do amended successful Nebraska."

The Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children — aliases Summer EBT — programme was wide employed arsenic portion of national assistance made disposable during nan COVID-19 pandemic, and past made imperishable successful 2022. It provides pre-loaded EBT cards to low-income families, those whose children are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches astatine school, and those who are already connected nutrient assistance, Medicaid and different assistance programs. Those families would person $40 per eligible kid for each of 3 summertime months. The cards tin beryllium utilized to bargain groceries, akin to really SNAP benefits are used.

US FEDERAL PROGRAM TO PROVIDE FOOD BENEFITS FOR NEARLY 21 MILLION CHILDREN THIS SUMMER

Pressure from lawmakers, peculiar those from agrarian areas, besides played a portion successful Pillen's about-face. The politician antecedently based on that Nebraska would proceed to thief food-insecure children done nan Summer Food Service Program, a abstracted programme that provides meals and snacks astatine various sites erstwhile schoolhouse is not successful session. But critics countered that not each families person entree to nan on-site programs, peculiarly successful Nebraska’s immense agrarian stretches, wherever nan sites tin beryllium acold from struggling families.

A measure from authorities Sen. Jen Day of Omaha, a Democrat successful nan officially nonpartisan Legislature, would person forced nan authorities to judge nan national funding. The bipartisan support for nan programme became clear erstwhile Republican authorities Sen. Ray Aguilar, of Grand Island, made Day's measure his privilege for nan session, giving it a bully chance to beryllium debated by nan afloat Legislature.

Aguilar was among 2 twelve Republican lawmakers who appeared pinch Pillen astatine Monday's news conference.

Nebraska was 1 of 15 states — each pinch Republican governors — that opted retired of receiving nan backing this year. Those states see neighboring Iowa, wherever Gov. Kim Reynolds criticized nan national nutrient programme arsenic doing "nothing to beforehand nutrition astatine a clip erstwhile puerility obesity has go an epidemic."

Reynolds' agency declined to reply questions Monday astir whether she is holding to her rejection of nan funding.

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State Sen. Megan Hunt, of Omaha, thanked Pillen for deciding to judge nan funding.

"This goes to show that each voices make a affirmative difference, and that difficult activity and building support crossed nan authorities and crossed nan political spectrum connected communal crushed issues to thief Nebraskans and bring our taxation dollars location is simply a triumph for everyone," Hunt tweeted.

The deadline for states to state that they are participating this summertime had been Jan. 1, but nan USDA extended it to Thursday.

Pillen said Monday that Nebraska officials had already reached retired to nan USDA to corroborate that nan authorities would participate this year.

The USDA did not instantly reply questions astir whether immoderate of nan different 14 holdout states had indicated by Monday if they would participate this year, but said nan agency is committed to moving pinch those that are "operationally fresh to participate successfully successful 2024."