FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 4, 2024
Contact: Jacki Ward Kehrwald; email@example.com; (971) 222-4662
Oregon Announces Intention to Alleviate Summer Hunger for 294,000 Kids
Further Action Needed by Oregon's Legislature and Federal Officials to Ensure Oregon's Participation
PORTLAND, OR — Oregon is taking critical steps to ensure children have access to vital nutrition during the summer months by declaring its intention to operate the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (Summer EBT) program in 2024, its first year as a permanent federal program. For families facing food insecurity, summer has long marked a time when kids no longer have easy access to breakfast and lunch at school. Many parents and caregivers have to come up with at least 10 additional meals per week, per child.
Oregon's participation in the Summer EBT program hinges on the acquisition of state administrative funding within the next two months during the upcoming short legislative session. The federal government will fund all of the food benefits, estimated at $35 million per year, and half the administrative costs.
“Community leaders in Oregon have spent the last ten years piloting, shaping and winning a permanent, nationwide Summer EBT program,” said David Wieland, Policy Advocate at Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon. “Now it’s in the state legislature’s hands to provide administrative funding and unlock the $35 million in federal food assistance for Oregon’s children and families.”
The Summer EBT program will operate similarly to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), providing eligible families with additional resources to purchase food. Families will receive pre-loaded EBT cards with $40 per child for each month, which will work in conjunction with other programs to help close the summer hunger gap. Oregon has participated in the Summer EBT program as a demonstration project since 2010, helping to shape the now-permanent program for the rest of the United States.
“This is an example of hard-working people coming together to solve big problems for real Oregonians,” said Oregon State Senator Suzanne Weber (R—District 16), active member of the Oregon Hunger Task Force. “I'm honored to be a part of finding solutions for hungry kids in my district and across the state."
Further Steps Still Needed to Make Summer EBT a Reality for Oregon’s Kids in 2024
Anti-hunger advocates in Oregon are now calling on state and federal officials to provide the necessary funding and flexibility to make Oregon’s declaration of intent a reality.
"Oregon's leaders have been working together to get to a yes on this common-sense program for our state's food insecure children,” said Oregon State Senator Deb Patterson (D—District 10) active member of the Oregon Hunger Task Force. "Our legislature must find a way to secure funding to unlock these federal dollars, and feed hundreds of thousands of young Oregonians."
The Oregon Department of Human Services submitted an official Notice of Intent to the USDA Food and Nutrition Services on December 28, 2023, three days before the federal deadline. The letter included “conditions and flexibilities” prior to a final commitment from the state. These include additional state budget funding and legislative approval, waived administrative processes, staffing requirements, and that the USDA convenes listening sessions and implements a feedback channel.
As of the deadline of January 1, 2024 at least 38 states, territories and eligible tribal nations notified USDA Food and Nutrition Services that they intend to operate the Summer EBT program this year – those that signed on now have until February 15 to submit a management and administration plan to the USDA.
“This investment not only nourishes bodies but also fuels the spirit of collective action. Together, we celebrate a stride towards a future where all of us can thrive and savor the bounty of summer — a future without hunger,” shared Sammi Teo, Public Policy Advocate at Oregon Food Bank. “Public policy has transformative power when it answers calls from our communities."
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden:
“I applaud Governor Kotek’s leadership to ensure children in Oregon continue to have access to federal food assistance during the summer,” said U.S. Senator for Oregon Ron Wyden. “I am committed to continuing to work with Governor Kotek, Oregon Food Bank and Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon to bring as many federal resources as possible to fight hunger in Oregon throughout the year.”
Representative Mark Owens:
“Summers can pose challenges for Oregon's children who lack access to school meals. I'm honored to be a part of finding solutions for hungry kids in my district and across the state,” shared Rep. Mark Owens, the republican lawmaker from House District 60 and an active member of the Oregon Hunger Task Force.
Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon:
“We applaud Governor Kotek, the Oregon Department of Human Services, and the Oregon Department of Education for submitting the intent to operate this program,” said Sarah Weber-Ogden, Co-Executive Director of Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon. “It’s now on the Oregon Legislature and USDA to ensure Oregon has the tools and resources to ensure this benefit gets in the hands of Oregonian families facing hunger.”
Child with a plate of food. Photo courtesy Oregon Food Bank
Siblings share a joyful moment awaiting lunch. Photo courtesy Oregon Food Bank
Tell legislators to reduce child hunger this summer for 290,000 kids in Oregon
ABOUT PARTNERS FOR A HUNGER-FREE OREGON
At Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, we work alongside those most impacted by hunger and poverty to advocate for systemic changes and better access to food. We believe everyone has the right to be free from hunger. To bring that vision into reality, we raise awareness about hunger, connect people to nutrition programs, and advocate for systemic changes.
ABOUT OREGON FOOD BANK
At Oregon Food Bank, we believe that food and health are basic human rights for all. We know that hunger is not just an individual experience; it is also a community-wide symptom of barriers to employment, education, housing and health care. That’s why we work systemically in our mission to end hunger in Oregon: we build community connections to help people access nutritious, affordable food today, and we build community power to eliminate the root causes of hunger for good. Join us online at OregonFoodBank.org and @oregonfoodbank on social media.