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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

Arkansas expands summer food access to combat childhood hunger

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Wednesday, January 31, 2024   

Arkansas wants to tackle childhood hunger this summer, by opting into a summer food program for kids.

One in five children in the Natural State faces hunger, according to the nonprofit Feeding America. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Summer EBT program aims to bridge the gap in childhood nutrition when schools are out.

Kathy Webb, CEO of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, said summers are tough for lower-income families who rely on school meals. She added more than 300,000 children would be eligible for their families to receive grocery-buying benefits.

"All of those kids who qualify for the school lunch program will be able to participate in Summer EBT," Webb explained. "Which means they will be able to get $40 for the three summer months. That's $120 to help provide food."

Webb pointed out the state has until Feb. 15 to submit its plan for the program to the USDA for approval. Based on the number of eligible children, Arkansas could expect an economic impact of more than $68 million from Summer EBT benefits, according to the USDA.

Webb noted to help meet the needs of families in rural communities, groups and schools distribute nutritious meals to kids in the summer through what's known as the Non-Congregate Summer Meal Program. In Russellville, for instance, 900 families picked up 9,000 meals on the Sunday before the Fourth of July.

"Between the rural Non-Congregate Meal Program that schools started last summer and Summer EBT, we're going to see access to summer meals greatly expanded in Arkansas," Webb projected. "Those two programs are long-term strategies with a big impact."

Webb's organization is working with the Departments of Human Services and Education to identify the best way to reach families of eligible kids and raise awareness of these programs across the state.


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