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Advocacy groups urge Florida to apply for 2025 summer meal programs for low-income kids


Dozens of anti-hunger, faith-based and children advocacy groups sent a letter Wednesday to Gov. Ron DeSantis and the head of the Florida Department of Children and Families, urging them to apply for the federal program that provides food assistance to low-income families when schools are out.

“In 2024, Florida chose not to participate in Summer EBT, even though the program would have provided over 2 million hungry children with roughly $259 million in federal food assistance. This was a missed opportunity for all Florida children who face food insecurity,” the group’s letter states. “While hunger affects children of all races and ethnicities in the state, children of color are disproportionately harmed by Florida’s decision to pass on Summer EBT for 2024. Black and Latino/children face a concerning reality where they are twice as likely to experience food insecurity compared to their counterparts.”

While Florida was one of 15 states that opted out of the Summer EBT program this year, according to the department's guidelines, state officials have until August 15 to notify the U.S. Department of Agriculture whether Florida will participate in the summer of 2025.

Starting this summer, low-income families in states that opted into the program will receive $40 per month for each school-aged child in an electronic benefit transfer to a food assistance debit card, according to States Newsroom’s D.C. Bureau.

“Parents are often forced to make hard decisions between buying food for their children or paying for other necessities such as rent, cell phone service, and electric bills,” said Florence French, a senior regional organizer for Bread for the World, during a press conference Wednesday morning. “As a result, food banks, food pantries, houses of worship, and other nonprofit emergency food providers are facing an extraordinary uptick in demand, which they are hard-pressed to meet. Summer EBT is a win-win in our state for Florida’s farmers and grocers and, most importantly, for Florida’s children.”

The program, which started during the COVID-19 pandemic, has a permanent status now. Florida would have to cover 50% of the program’s administrative costs, according to the USDA.

“Expanding the Summer EBT program and enabling summer meal programs to be more flexible is the simplest and most practical way to prevent child hunger when school is out, especially for children in rural communities. It is not too late to implement the Summer EBT program,” the groups wrote in the letter.

Florida Phoenix is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.

EBT, Florida, Florida Legislature, Anti-Hunger, Faith Based, Children's Advocacy, How can I fight hunger in Florida?


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