For kids in Missouri who receive a free or reduced price school meal, the summer can be one of the hungriest times of the year. During the summer months, these children do not have access to this free, healthy, and well-balanced meal each and every day. Instead, the families that rely on those meals, that are already struggling with limited funds, must come up with additional money to meet the nutritional needs of their children during the summer.
For the Summer of 2024, and for the summers that follow, Congress has approved a permanent food assistance program that is designed to help: The Summer EBT Program. The Summer EBT Program provides qualifying children $40 per summer month of food benefits to be used for their families to purchase food in their local grocery stores or markets.
In Missouri, 429,000 children will be helped by the program. And, over $51 million dollars worth of benefits will come into the state to be spent at local grocery stores! It is a huge support to families and an enormous economic boom to our local communities.
We were pleased to see that on December 21st, Missouri took the first step to implementing this program for the Summer of 2024, with the Missouri Department of Social Services submitting a letter of intent to the USDA. The deadline for states to submit the letter of intent was January 1st, and by that date, 35 states had submitted it.
As I said, the letter of intent was just the first step, and a non-binding first step at that. Next Missouri must put together a Plan of Implementation and Management and submit the plan to USDA by February 15th. As the Missouri Department of Social Services stated in their letter of intent, there are lots of steps and challenges that Missouri will have to address in order for the program to be successful.
Empower Missouri believes the steps, the financial investment, and the work that it is going to take, is worth it!
As advocates, we are here to encourage the State to submit the plan and to offer our support throughout the process. To show the state how important we think this program is, we are exciting organizations and individuals throughout the state to sign on in support of the program.
We hope you will join us in this effort. We need your signature! And we need you to help spread the word to your contacts!
Once you’ve signed, please share the letter with your colleagues, friends, and other community members to help us gather as much support as possible!