BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Late Friday afternoon, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) announced that the state would not be participating in the Summer EBT program offered by the federal government.
“Every child deserves a safe home, first and foremost, and families deserve a pathway to self-sufficiency. That is our primary mission,” said DCFS Secretary David Matlock. “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.”
Following the announcement, some elected officials began to push back on the administration’s decision to turn down around $71 million in support that the USDA estimates could have benefitted 594,000 children. The federal government would have covered the benefits cost and half of the administrative cost, and the state would have had to cover the other half.
Congressman Troy Carter had a heated message for Landry and his administration. The program was an extension of a pandemic-era assistance program to help make sure low-income children were eating outside of school. Congress approved the measure in 2022.
“There’s no good reason why you would deny poor people and poor children access to additional food,” Carter said.
The program would have allowed for low-income families, who make up under 185% of the federal poverty line, to get an additional $40 a month per child to help make sure they are getting enough to eat when they aren’t in school.
“An extra $40 would have made a hell of a difference to my mother when she was raising six of us,” Carter said. “That extra $40 makes a big difference in the life of someone who’s trying to put food on the table for the children and educate the children to keep them housed and healthy.”
The Louisiana House Democratic Caucus Chairman sent out a statement Monday morning stating:
“House Democrats strongly oppose Governor Jeff Landry’s decision not to participate in the federal Summer EBT program and urge him to reverse course. The Summer EBT program helps feed nearly 600,000 Louisiana children with food insecurity. As leaders, we have a moral obligation to our children and the future of our state. Childhood hunger can have lasting consequences. Children cannot learn, develop, or grow strong if they are hungry. We must put our children before partisan politics and do the right thing. We can feed hundreds of thousands of Louisiana children, helping them become intelligent, strong, successful adults. This is a no-brainer. Louisiana must participate in the Summer EBT program.”
State Rep. Matthew Willard, D-New Orleans
The caucus and Congressman Carter are calling on the governor to reverse his decision to opt out of the program. The state could opt back into the program in the summer of 2025.
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Families will still have access to traditional SNAP benefits. Last week Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack sent a letter to Landry encouraging the state to improve their SNAP program.
“I urge you to prioritize these concerns and take appropriate steps to make sure that your State has an acceptable application processing timeliness (APT) rate, payment error rate (PER), and case and procedural error rate (CAPER) and meets basic Federal requirements. The most recent State reported data show Louisiana had an APT rate of 98.64 percent (acceptable performance is above 95 percent), an overpayment error rate of 6.00 percent and an underpayment rate of 1.20 percent in Fiscal Year 2022 (acceptable performance is below 6 percent when the two are added together), and a Fiscal Year 2022 CAPER of 58.57 percent (national average is 44.12 percent). Fortunately, according to the most recent State-reported data, your performance in CAPER is starting to show improvement.”
Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture