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Lawmakers outraged at Landry's decision to reject millions of dollars to feed children

4 months 2 days 3 hours ago Wednesday, February 14 2024 Feb 14, 2024 February 14, 2024 5:55 PM February 14, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Gov. Jeff Landry has until the end of the day Thursday to enroll Louisiana in the USDA's summer food program, which grew out of a temporary relief system put in place during the pandemic.

It would help feed about 600,000 children in the state. Currently, there are more than 300,000 enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and there are another 200,000 who are food insecure, according to Feeding Louisiana. 

"It provides very much-needed resources to our young people that could use a little extra help during the summer months, [specifically] when these young people are not getting lunches they would get normally through the school year," U.S. Rep. Troy Carter said.

On Friday, Landry's new DCFS Secretary, David Matlock, released a statement saying the state will reject the federal funds and instead opt to focus on more self-sufficiency.

"Every child deserves a safe home, first and foremost, and families deserve a pathway to self-sufficiency. That is our primary mission, staying focused on that mission, without adding piecemeal programs that come with more strings than long-term solutions, is what will deliver the biggest impact for the children and families we serve," Matlock said.

The summer Electronic Benefits Transfer proposed would give each family $40 a month per child. 

"These children, if not given an opportunity to be fed, will be hungry. This is not politics. We're talking about 71 million dollars," Carter said.

The governor's spokeswoman, Kate Kelly, said there was no need for Louisiana to participate.

"The pandemic is over," she said in an emailed statement. "Louisiana already administers robust social safety net programs including SNAP, TANF, 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.”

TANF is temporary assistance to needy families and WIC is a program for women, infants and children.

So far, 35 states have enrolled, but 15 others, including Louisiana, have rejected the summer program. All of those that rejected it are led by Republicans. 

"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."

The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus released a statement on Wednesday calling the refusal callous.

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