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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Despite setbacks, SD coalition keeps pushing for childhood nutrition access

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Tuesday, February 27, 2024   

It's been an uphill battle for childhood nutrition advocates to advance meal access policies in the South Dakota Legislature. However, organizers say that's not stopping conversations, along with community efforts. One of a handful of bills defeated this session called on South Dakota to enroll in the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer Program for Children.

The federal government gives states funding to distribute to eligible families, allowing them to buy food for their kids over the summer using an EBT card.

Tony Burke, state government relations director with the American Heart Association of South Dakota, said the group is disappointed with the bill outcomes, but will stay engaged with lawmakers and community groups.

"If we want healthy communities, if we want healthy future generations, we have to start at the very youngest of ages - even in the early childcare space," he said. "We have to have nutrition that's really important for their heart and brain development."

AHA is working with local organizations across the state to foster solutions that would complement any policy action. As for the summer meal program, nearly 40 other states have signed on. However, there was lingering debate in South Dakota about taking on administrative costs, even with the feds providing the aid for recipients.

Sioux Falls Thrive Executive Director Michelle Erpenbach says transportation is a huge barrier for households in underserved communities to connect with food assistance programs. They hope a new mobile grocery store in her city gets around this problem.

"It moves into neighborhoods where the data shows us that we have families with the highest needs. And so, it's that idea of how do we counteract that concept - that old term of food desert," she explained.

The coalition says while creative approaches like these might bolster resiliency for households with children, not every community around South Dakota can replicate them. Organizers say that's why it's vital to weave in state-level support as local solutions come together at varying levels.

Disclosure: American Heart Association of South Dakota contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Civic Engagement, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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