It appears that for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, Louisiana will not participate in a summer feeding program that helps the poor.

Unless something changes last minute, Louisiana will not be a part of the federal Summer EBT Program that gives eligible families an extra $40 a month per child during the summer months.

United States Department of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture

Why has Governor Jeff Landry decided to opt out of the program?

Gov. Landry simply believes the program is no longer needed.

In a statement to the media, Landry had this to say about the program:

Summer EBT is a pandemic-era-related program that costs $7 million. The pandemic is over. Louisiana already administers robust social safety net programs including SNAP, TANF, FITAP, as well as the Child Nutrition Programs—including the USDA Summer Food Service Program, the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Seamless Summer Option, and WIC. This year, the Summer Food Service Program will offer meals-to-go. Under these numerous programs, every child will be able to receive the meals they need throughout the summer.

How many states have opted into the program?

A total of 35 states have opted into the summer Electronic Benefits Transfer effort under SNAP.

Each of the 15 states that have opted out of the funding is led by Republicans, prompting some to claim that their refusal is based on politics.

What Democrats are saying.

U.S. Rep. Troy Carter, a Democrat from New Orleans, said the state should accept the money.

"They should not find a reason to be partisan when it comes to providing for our young, [vulnerable] people," Carter said. "We should not play politics at a national level to make a point on the party side, not when it comes to children."

Louisiana's Democratic Caucus Chairman, Rep. Matthew Willard (District 97), blasted Gov. Landry for his decision, claiming that thousands of kids will go hungry without it.

“As leaders, we have a moral obligation to our children and the future of our state. Childhood hunger can have lasting consequences. Children cannot learn, develop, or grow strong if they are hungry. We must put our children before partisan politics and do the right thing. We can feed hundreds of thousands of Louisiana children, helping them become intelligent, strong, successful adults. This is a no-brainer. Louisiana must participate in the Summer EBT Program," wrote Willard.

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