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SPLC Action Fund and Coalition Partners Urge Gov. DeSantis & State Legislators to Fund Summer EBT Program

TALLAHASSEE —Today, in a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, State Sen. Doug Broxson and Rep. Tom Leek, a broad coalition of Florida advocates, including the SPLC Action Fund, urged state leaders to fund the 2024 Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (Summer EBT) program. Florida is one of 15 states now opting out of the program that provides benefits over the summer months for children in households experiencing food insecurity.

The letter notes, “For thousands of kids, summer break signifies the loss of access to school lunches, which often serve as their primary source of nutrition … This failure to provide basic food security for children —the most vulnerable members of our communities — will have repercussions that cannot be ignored.”

More than 30 million children participate in the USDA’s school breakfast and lunch program during the academic year. Only one in six children who eat free and reduced lunch participate in the summer meals program and one in seven Florida children live in homes with limited or uncertain availability of nutritious food. In Florida alone, an estimated 723,000 children under the age of 18 were living in poverty in 2022, with 29% of those being Black children.

According to USDA estimates, over 2 million children would be eligible for Summer EBT. Participation would provide our state with nearly $259 million in federal food assistance dollars to distribute to families with children experiencing food insecurity, ensuring that children have access to fresh, healthy foods and a hunger-free summer.

Read the full letter HERE.