Iowa, Nebraska Opt Out of Summer EBT for Children

Iowa, Nebraska Opt Out of Summer EBT for Children

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In both states, there are still various programs that will provide children from low-income families with enough foods and nutritions all year around.

Iowa will not participate in the 2024 Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) for Children, state officials announced on Friday.

“Federal COVID-era cash benefit programs are not sustainable and don’t provide long-term solutions for the issues impacting children and families. An EBT card does nothing to promote nutrition at a time when childhood obesity has become an epidemic” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement.

“HHS and the Department of Education have well-established programs in place that leverage partnerships with community-based providers and schools who understand the needs of the families they serve. If the Biden Administration and Congress want to make a real commitment to family well-being, they should invest in already existing programs and infrastructure at the state level and give us the flexibility to tailor them to our state’s needs,” she added.

The Hawkeye State will rely on existing programs by state agencies and is exploring new options to “address family well-being and children’s health in Iowa,” the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services said.

The Summer EBT program started during the COVID-19 pandemic and was later permanently authorized by the Biden administration and Congress earlier this year.

The program would give $40 in EBT credit per month to each child during the summer to purchase food if the child is eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. The state is required to cover half of the administrative costs. In the case of Iowa, the administrative costs for the state are estimated to be $2.2 million.

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A neighboring state of Iowa, Nebraska, is also withdrawing from the program.

“In the end, I fundamentally believe that we solve the problem, and I don’t believe in welfare,” Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen told the Lincoln Journal Star. “And so we’re solving the problem. We’re taking care of the kids. And we’re doing it in a way that the best value is created and we take care of the kids.

Mr. Pillen said it’s much more important for all kids to get out and engaged within the community.

In Nebraska, the Summer EBT program would give each eligible child $120 in EBT credit. It’s estimated that about 150,000 eligible children would get $18 million in benefits through this program.

Meanwhile, the Cornhusker State would bear $300,000 in administrative costs annually, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

 A sign alerting customers about SNAP food stamps benefits is displayed at a Brooklyn grocery store in New York City on Dec. 5, 2019. (Scott Heins/Getty Images)
A sign alerting customers about SNAP food stamps benefits is displayed at a Brooklyn grocery store in New York City on Dec. 5, 2019. (Scott Heins/Getty Images)

In both states, there are still various existing programs that will provide children from low-income families with enough food and nutrition all year around.

Officials from both states seem to suggest that the Summer EBT program is cutting children’s outdoor time and worsening childhood obesity.

While the Nebraska governor emphasized the importance of outdoor events for children, Iowa also mentioned the mounting childhood obesity problem in the Dec. 22 statement.

“Childhood obesity and other diet-related health problems are increasing. Almost sixteen percent of children in Iowa ages 10 to 17 are obese and Iowa is in the top ten states for high school age obesity,” read the statement.

Food Stamp Program Abuse

More than 66,000 people stayed on food stamp, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), rolls even after winning enough money in lotteries to make them ineligible—and that’s based on data obtained in just 13 U.S. states—with the figure for all 50 states “likely in the hundreds of thousands,” a government watchdog said.

The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to all 50 states, seeking information on the number of people in the food stamp program since 2019 who won big in the lottery, according to Hayden Dublois, the FGA’s data and analytics director.

“We aren’t talking about the proud owners of $20 prizes from scratchers. We’re talking about those who won at least $4,250, which, under federal law, makes a person ineligible for the taxpayer’s help,” Mr. Dublois said in an Oct. 20 op-ed for Fox News.

Through a combination of state negligence and federal loopholes, more than 66,000 substantial lottery winners continued to receive food stamps in the 13 states for which the FOIA request yielded survey data, he said.

“Across all 50 states, the number is likely in the hundreds of thousands,” Mr. Dublois said, with the stark figures being the latest sign of persistent food stamp program abuse about which the FGA has been sounding the alarm for a long time.

“Congress should get lottery winners off this low-income program when passing the Farm Bill later this fall,” he said.

Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.

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