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Capitol Insider: Latest News on Food Insecurity Policy & Advocacy (February 2023)

State Capitol ceiling

by Jessica Dietrich, Director of Government Relations and Public Policy, and Bailey Ashbaker, Senior Policy Analyst



Oklahoma Legislative Session 

Oklahoma’s 59th legislature began February 6, 2023. There were 3,075 bills requested by legislators that are currently being heard and voted on through various committees. In addition to requesting HB 1376, our team at HFO analyzed and compiled a list of the bills filed this session that have the potential to impact hunger and poverty in Oklahoma: 

Child Nutrition 

    • HB 1376 by Representative Boatman – Provides children of families with incomes less than 300% of the Federal Poverty Line free school meals. 
      • Passed unanimously out of subcommittee 2/20/23. 
    • HB 1542 by Representative Moore – Provides immunity from civil liability for restaurants that donate food, in good faith and without compensation, that causes damage. 
      • Passed out of committee 2/16/23. 
    • HB 1840 by Representative Kerbs – Moves child nutrition admin. to Dept of Ag. 
    • HB 1885 by Representative Waldron – Universal free school meals 
    • HB 2727 by Representative Menz – Universal free school meals 
    • SB 268 by Senator Alvord – Directs OSDE to request a meal pattern waiver for school districts with 1,000 or less students. 

    Benefit Programs (SNAP, TANF, etc.) 

      • HB 1931, HB 1932, SB 281, SB 400, SB 694 – Modifications to increase access and/or reduce barriers to TANF.  
        • HB 1931 passed out of committee 2/14/23. 
        • HB 1932 passed out of committee 2/14/23. 
        • SB 281 passed out of committee 2/16/23. 
      • SB 534 by Senator Rosino – Changes the maximum income to 300% of the federal poverty level for a child that is severely developmentally disabled to qualify for assistance.  
        • Passed out of committee 2/16/23. 
      • SB 567 by Senator Montgomery – Directs OHCA and OKDHS to collaborate on a universal eligibility and enrollment application for certain public assistance programs.  


            • HB 1444, HB1955, HB2086 – Eliminates state portion of grocery sales tax. 
            • HB 2769, SB 307 – Extends the refundability of the Earned Income Tax Credit. 
            • SB 863 by Senator Bullard – Requires OSDE to develop a plan to phase out federal funding. 

            Farm Bill 2023

            The federal legislation known as the Farm Bill is set to be reauthorized by Congress this year. This legislation is a significant priority for food security advocates as it reauthorizes the nation’s largest anti-hunger program, SNAP. The Farm Bill brings opportunity in the form of potential modernization of SNAP and other nutrition programs, but it also brings danger in the form of potential limitations on the programs.  

            Earlier this month, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a hearing on the nutrition title of the upcoming Farm Bill. The recording of that hearing can be found here.      

            Debt Ceiling 

            As of last month, the U.S. hit its statutory debt limit. From now until it becomes impossible to do so (estimated to be in June), the Treasury Department will be taking “extraordinary measures” to ensure the nation’s bills are paid on time. If Congress does not act to raise the limit with considerable time to spare, as has been done 78 times since 1960, the economic fallout could be disastrous. An immediate public spending cut this large could deeply harm benefit programs like Social Security, Medicaid, and SNAP, not to mention the disproportionate effect a recession and financial collapse would have on low-income families. We will be closely monitoring this issue as more develops. 

            Federal Spending Package Passed

            Right before the holidays, Congress negotiated one final spending package that impacted food security programs. The package included some significant wins: 

            • A long-term authorization of a nationwide Summer EBT program, something that HFO has been advocating for since our founding  
            • A new option for states to offer non-congregate meals to kids in rural areas in the summer  
            • Replacement benefits for victims of EBT card skimming between 10/1/22 and 9/30/24, in addition to a directive for USDA to work to prevent benefit theft 

            Unfortunately, in order to secure these big wins, the compromise struck by members of Congress set a certain end date to the SNAP emergency allotments (also known as maximum benefits), rather than keeping the end date tied to the end of the federal public health emergency. We are disappointed to see these crucial benefits end early but are excited to see permanent programs put in place which have the potential to be transformational for Oklahoma. Read the OHS press release here



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