#Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves' office has announced that the state will not participate in a federal summer food program for children. The program, known as Summer #EBT, would have provided families of students who receive free or reduced lunch during the school year with electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards worth $40 per month per eligible child, totaling $120 for the summer. The decision not to participate has stirred controversy.
Reeves' office cited a desire to reject "attempts to expand the welfare state" as the reason for opting out. However, officials at the state's welfare agency, which Reeves oversees, provided a different explanation, citing a lack of state resources to administer the program.
The Summer EBT program is set to benefit nearly 21 million children across 35 states, U.S. territories, and Tribes. Mississippi had previously administered a similar pandemic EBT program, but the new summer version requires states to cover half of the administrative expenses, which Mississippi claims it lacks the resources to do.
Some Republican governors in other states have also declined to participate in the program, citing opposition to expanding federal benefits. Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson criticized Governor Reeves for the decision, stating that it would burden multiple families in need of essential food assistance during the summer.
Reeves' spokesperson defended the decision, arguing that existing programs would continue to provide support for children's summer meals and that the Summer EBT program was originally intended as a temporary pandemic-era initiative. The Mississippi Department of Education will continue administering the Summer Food Service Program, which provides on-site meals in low-income communities.
Governor Tate Reeves' decision to opt out of the federal Summer EBT program for children raises critical concerns about the well-being of Mississippi's vulnerable youth. It is essential to prioritize the needs of children and families struggling with food insecurity. We stand in solidarity with those advocating for equitable access to essential resources, emphasizing that the responsibility of ensuring children's well-being extends beyond political ideologies and budget constraints.
Link: Mississippi Today