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  • Writer's pictureKaren Young

Grassroots organizing pushes governor to accept food aid

 Welcome to Winning Wednesday!


I assume you’ve heard about the victory for Starbucks workers.  Super great!  Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard these past few years to bring this home.  A couple of recent events I noted that seemed to be catalysts: the incredibly petty decision the company made to exclude union workers from the international Barista Competition, and the arrival of a new CEO.  The old one, Howard Schultz, was virulently anti-union.  The new one, Laxman Narasimhan, started about a year ago.  Who can say why, but sales and stock prices have been trending down.


But today I want to tell you about another victory – smaller, but significant in its own way.  The moral of the story: there are progressives in every state in the union, and sometimes they win!


Summer EBT feeds children


The Federal government has created a program called Summer EBT, where families can get $40/month to buy food during the summer, when free meals at school are not available. It’s the first major expansion of federal nutrition programs in decades, and the Biden administration estimates it could help feed 30 million eligible schoolchildren. Most states said “Yes, please,” but fifteen states said “Hell no.”  They include Florida and Texas, of course.  Texas will starve nearly 4 million children, in spite of dozens of organizations begging them to take the money.


Advocacy changes a governor’s mind


Politico had the story about Nebraska announcing it was opting into the program after all.  This is after GOP Gov. Jim Pillen had previously stated he would reject the aid — “I don’t believe in welfare,” he’d said at a press conference in December.   Kudos to Politico for mentioning, as so many political stories don’t, the local activists who helped make it happen, in this case including a group called Nebraska Appleseed.  The state will spend $2 million to administer the program, worth $30 million in benefits.


The USDA has extended the deadline for states to accept the aid, giving activists more time to crank up the pressure.  In neighboring Iowa, nearly 100 organizations, led by the Iowa Hunger Coalition,  have called on the state to take the money.  GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds – a MAGA queen – is still saying “Hell no.”  Pressure is on, especially in North Carolina and Louisiana. 

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