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

State Capitol ceiling

by Jessica Dietrich, Director of Government Relations and Public Policy; Bailey Ashbaker, Senior Policy Analyst and Engagement Specialist; and Nick Battles, Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow



Oklahoma Legislative Session 

January 19 was the bill filing deadline ahead of the 2023 legislative session, which begins in just a few short weeks. There were 3,075 bills requested by legislators that will be viable as the legislature convenes February 6, 2023. The deadline last week means that bills will begin to have more detail in them, allowing advocates (and all Oklahomans) the opportunity to consider potential impacts of the proposed policies. 

This session we are proud to be working with Representative Boatman and Senator Garvin on HB1376 to make school meals no cost to more low-income Oklahoma families. If the legislation is successful, it would mean that many low-income families would no longer have to pay out of pocket for school meals, and the state would instead cover those costs. 

As of the writing of this report our team is still working on analyzing all the legislation, as most of the language was filed right at the January 19 deadline.  

New OHS Leadership

HFO wants to congratulate Dr. Deb Shropshire on being named as the next Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OHS). We are excited to continue our work with OHS with Dr. Shropshire at the helm.     

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.  

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.  

We are happy to share that Congressman Frank Lucas will be returning to the House Agriculture Committee, putting Oklahomans in a strong position to be advocates for important food security policies impacting our communities. 

Debt Ceiling

As of last week, 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.  

P-EBT Updates  

School Year 2021–2022 Benefits: 
Oklahoma was approved to operate the P-EBT program for school closures during the 2021–2022 school year. Benefits for the 2021–2022 school year started being issued earlier this month. Please note that school year benefits only cover school days missed due to COVID-19-related closures. 

Summer 2022 Benefits: 
Oklahoma was approved to operate the P-EBT program for Summer 2022. Unlike school year benefits, summer benefits are a uniform amount of $391 for all qualifying children. Benefits went out at the end of July and beginning of August. Benefits for those who were missed in the original August 2022 issuance and filled out this form are being issued. 



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