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Vilsack Looking for Restoration of Summer Food Program

U-S Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he hopes Iowa officials reconsider the decision to turn down additional federal food assistance in the summer for about 240,000 Iowa children from low income households. *

Under the program, families with children eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school may receive an Electronic Benefits Card that allows them to buy an extra $40 worth of food per child during the summer months when school is not in session. In December, Governor Reynolds announced Iowa would not participate in the program because of administrative costs to the state and because she says it does nothing to promote nutrition at a time when childhood obesity has become an epidemic. Republican governors in 13 other states announced similar decisions last year, but in February, Nebraska’s governor reversed course and announced Nebraska would accept $18 million in additional federal food assistance for Nebraska children this summer. According to the USDA, the parents of 21 million children across the country will get the extra food assistance this summer.

Vilsack discussed the summer feeding program during a stop last week in Clear Lake schools.

The USDA had extended the deadline for states to sign up for the summer feeding program to mid-February but has indicated it will work with all states that are ready to administer the program this summer.

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