by Jessica Dietrich, Policy & Government Relations Manager and Bailey Ashbaker, Senior Policy Analyst and Engagement Specialist
Announcing the LOCAL Coalition
Hunger Free Oklahoma, in partnership with the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, recently formed the Lift Oklahoma Communities, Agriculture, and Lifestyles (LOCAL) Coalition. The coalition is advocating for a state investment to expand access to healthy food for low-income Oklahomans across the state. Earlier this month, Senator Roger Thompson and Representative Logan Phillips joined members of the LOCAL coalition and Homeland grocery store leaders to tour the Okemah Homeland grocery store to learn more about the positive impacts of the DUO program. Since HFO launched the grocery store pilot stores have seen an average of an 85% increase in produce purchases with SNAP, stores are ordering produce up to 4x more frequently, and some locations hired additional staff to meet demand.
The Oklahoma Legislature convened a special session earlier this week. The special session was called by Governor Stitt for the Oklahoma Legislature to finish the work of redistricting Oklahoma’s congressional and state legislative districts. Under normal circumstances the redistricting process would likely have been completed earlier this spring during regular session. However, due to U.S. Census deadline extensions due to the pandemic, the final information needed for the legislature to complete redistricting was not available before the end of regular session. The legislature may only take action on items pertaining to the purposes of the call, as outlined in Governor Stitt’s Executive Order.
Federal Budget Reconciliation Update
Negotiations on the contents of the Build Back Better social spending package seem to be coming to a close. The original spending package has been condensed from a $3.5 trillion budget to $1.75 trillion through cuts to many of the proposed programs. Some of the original Child Nutrition Program provisions have been preserved such as allocations to extend Summer EBT nationwide, providing states the option to implement statewide Community Eligibility Provisions for free school meals, and grants for school kitchen equipment and healthy meals demonstration projects. However, the condensed package excludes extensions to the Child Tax Credits and options for states to implement Medicaid direct certification for free school meals. The timeline for consideration is still uncertain, but is anticipated to happen by early December.
PEBT Deadline Approaching
If your child received virtual instruction in 2020-21 and you believe your child is eligible and you have not yet received a P-EBT card or believe the amount on the card is incorrect, please fill out the review form on OSDE’s page by Nov. 30, 2021.
Oklahoma has launched a website to stay up to date on the latest information on the state portion of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Included on the site is an opportunity for Oklahomans to formally or informally weigh in on how these funds should be used. Organizations may submit a detailed response to the project questionnaire, which is intended to be used for specific projects. There is also an idea questionnaire available for Oklahomans to provide input on how the funds should be used, without the need to propose a fully-planned project. Visit the state ARPA website here.
Join our newsletter to receive these updates and more via email.
Visit www.hungerfreeok.org/join-newsletter to sign up!