RELEASE: Nebraska Appleseed submits 6,144 signatures to Gov. Pillen in support of summer grocery benefits program

***For Immediate Release***
December 29, 2023

Contact: Sierra Salgado Pirigyi
Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed
Office: (402) 438-8853 ext 116

Nebraska Appleseed submits 6,144 signatures to Gov. Pillen in support of summer grocery benefits program

LINCOLN, NE – Today, Nebraska Appleseed delivered a petition to Governor Pillen with 6,144 signatures from 230 Nebraska communities who want our state to participate in the new Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program for summer 2024, including from 600 individuals who would be directly impacted by this program. Today is the last working day before the USDA deadline to “express interest” in moving forward with the program.

On Tuesday, December 19, Governor Pillen announced his decision to refuse $18 million in federal funds meant to provide grocery buying benefits for economically disadvantaged children through the Summer EBT program. This new, permanent program would distribute EBT cards with $120 in benefits that can be used to buy summer groceries to 150,000 kids who participate in free or reduced price meals in Nebraska schools. The state has until January 1, 2024 to “express interest” in participation with the USDA to have the option to participate this summer.

Included with these signatures were over 5,053 comments responding to the prompt, “Tell the Governor why this issue is important to you.” Below are a selection of comments:

“Everything is expensive. I’m a single mom who works full time, and my budget is already spread so thin. My son plays sports, and as a growing boy, he could practically eat a hole through the wall, it feels like it never stops. The extra money for food would free up money for things like bills and savings, and car maintenance” – Bruno, NE

“My family is struggling to make ends meet with bills and being able to provide quality food for our children. This program would help my family so much, and we would have to worry a lot less about whether our children are going to have food or not.” – Hastings, NE

“The inflation on products has made our budget extremely tight. When all my kids are home in the summer it is hard to know that your bills are due but your kids need to eat. We need this as a state due to inflation on everything.” – Gering, NE

“This is important because I am a single mom of 2 children and would otherwise not be able to feed them at daycare or school without free and reduced lunch. I almost go broke during the summer trying to compensate for them not being in school or at a center.” – Lincoln, NE

“We are contributing members of our community, and we work hard, but we need help. We struggle during summer because of the added cost of 6 additional meals per day. It costs gas to get to a school that offers free lunch during the summer, and that is if our only vehicle is in working order. The PEBT program is important to our family and so many others. Please support the PEBT summer food program.” – Omaha, NE

“Working with low income clients, I see the huge need for Summer EBT benefits for our families during the summer. With the huge increase in expenses, families’ ability to buy food is already cutting it close, let alone when the kids are out of school in the summer, home and eating more food. Summer EBT would be a HUGE help to families in our state.” – Kearney, NE

Nebraska Appleseed program manager for food and nutrition access, Eric Savaiano, issued the following statement in response:

“Summer hunger is a regular and heart-wrenching event for families and children. Support, like the kind offered through Summer EBT, can help more children get the food they need in all corners of our state.

Today, however, 6,144 Nebraskans spoke with one voice to share their hope that Nebraska’s leaders will seize the opportunity to support food insecure kids around our state. We hope this huge show of support from Nebraskans throughout the state will encourage Governor Pillen to choose to participate in Summer EBT.”

Map of petition signers:


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