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An Alabama Senate committee reverses course on feeding hungry children

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An Alabama Senate committee voted to set aside money so that the state can reverse course and participate in a federal program that gives summer food assistance to low-income families with school-age children. APR news reported on efforts by the nonprofit group Alabama Arise to urge the public to call lawmakers on the issue.

Alabama was one of 14 states that declined to participate in the Summer EBT, or Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer Program for Children. It provides families $40 per month to spend on groceries for each child who receives free or reduced-price school lunches during the school year. The program aims to augment summer meal sites to help combat food insecurity during the summer months.

The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee voted to allocate $10 million to the Education Trust Fund so the state can participate next year. The spending bill now moves to the full Senate for review.

Alabama participated in the pandemic version of the program. Congress in 2022 made the program permanent effective this summer. States split the program's administrative costs, but the federal government pays for the food benefits.

Advocacy groups had urged lawmakers to fund the program.

LaTrell Clifford Wood, a hunger policy analyst with Alabama Arise, said the program "will help reduce food insecurity for more than 500,000 Alabama children."

"These benefits will help ensure that children can continue getting the nutritious food they need when school meals are unavailable," Clifford Wood said.

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