*** For Immediate Release ***

Peterson campaign petition prompts Utah to accept benefits for Utah’s hungry children; press conference today, July 9, at 2 p.m. outside DWS offices

Utah DWS announces the state will accept pandemic-EBT benefits after Chris Peterson delivers petition signed by more than 1,650 Utahns demanding Utah protect hungry children

July 9, 2020—Salt Lake City, Utah

Utah will accept federal funding in food aid for hungry families after Democratic candidate for governor Chris Peterson condemned Gov. Gary Herbert and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox for refusing to apply for the benefits earlier this year.

“I am disappointed that these critical relief funds will be delivered to families months late, when thousands of Utahns are currently out of work and struggling to buy groceries,” Peterson said. “The governor was ready to leave $50 million in food money on the table because it was too complex. But this reversal was better late than never.”

Peterson will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. today, July 9, outside the Department of Workforce Services at 140 E 300 S.

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020, states could apply for and receive temporary food benefits for at-risk families during the coronavirus pandemic. Utah did not request approximately $50 million of available money for Utah’s children until the governor’s office received pressure from the public.

The Peterson campaign initiated a petition in late May when the New York Times reported Utah as the only state in the country to forgo the temporary food benefits for at-risk families. The state cited the benefits as too complex to implement.

Peterson delivered a petition to the governor demanding the state apply for Pandemic-EBT (electronic benefit transfer) immediately. The petition was signed by more than 1,650 Utahns from 125 cities and towns in Utah.

“Helping hungry children is the right thing to do,” Peterson said. “I’m glad the state decided to heed the call of Utahns who signed the petition and provide benefits to families who need it most.”

Children who receive free or reduced-price school meals on March 16, 2020 are eligible for pandemic-ebt. The program provides $308 to help cover the cost of meals from March 16 through May 29, 2020, while schools were closed, according to Utah’s Department of Workforce Services. The DWS website also said an online application will be available soon.

“The petition shows that when Utahns get involved in our community and make our voices heard, we can make a difference,” said Karina Brown, Democratic candidate for lt. gov.

Below is a sample of comments from Utahns across the state who called on the governor to reverse the plan to forgo the food benefits.

  • Children’s wellbeing must be a priority. We are all better off if the children among us are well cared for.
  • In rural UT most families have to travel 2-3 miles to shop for groceries once a month and hope food lasts for a month. With the virus it has been a hardship and many have resorted to nearby food banks as well as donations. Parents are going hungry just to feed their children.
  • Many Utah children rely on schools for their meals each day and the backpack food program to bridge the school gaps. Access to food is not something we should even consider as an option. We have a responsibility to ensure our children have access to food and do not experience food insecurity.
  • Being largely hospitality industry dependent, Grand County Utah has been the hardest hit job loss area of Utah. With an employee low wage demographic, many with children, the need is here now. We call on you to immediately apply for and administer the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer funds without further delay.
  • It seems like so many families fall through the cracks because of so many rules. Food is not a luxury!
  • Why would these officials deny food to our hungry children?! I’ve worked with abused and neglected children my entire 30-year career as an attorney. This action defies all conscious for this underserved population-But then, children don’t vote, do they?
  • I drive a school bus and I see those children that need food.
  • I’ve lived with food insecurity before. It’s inexcusable that any child in Utah, the greateststate in the nation, should have to do the same.
  • I use to be a lunch lady. I saw how many kids went hungry and how much food we threwaway. Why are we letting children go hungry? Take the money and feed these children.
  • People are digging up their gardens from fear of starvation. Shame.
  • Many of these children’s parent’s employment had ended either furloughed or terminated. Don’t be lazy file the paperwork and get it done!
  • Elected officials who tread on the backs of the poor, young, hungry people of our country need to humbled by removal from office. If they were the hungry ones, they would not object to Federal involvement. Too many of us in UT do not know the secret handshake that gets the “more equal people” whatever they need to get by.
  • Food security is an important issue in Utah and ALL resources available should be leveraged.
  • My daughter is a 4th grade school teacher in Hurricane, Utah. She has told us on multiple occasions that her estimate is 30% of her students are food deficient. Why are we turning down Federal Funding to provide resources for these kids?
  • I cannot begin to imagine why you reject the funds that could assist many of Utah’s children who are going hungry… Matthew 25:35 says: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me”, and 25:41 says “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” By the way, these passages appear under the heading “Judgment of the nations” in my scriptures.
  • The demand on food banks has been overwhelming. Children are going hungry. In the time of a budget deficit, we should not be turning away federal funds.
  • Among all the issues we face in today’s world, children going hungry should not be one of them.
CONTACT: Ermina Mustafic
PHONE: 385-229-7448
EMAIL: ermina@petersonforutah.com
WEBSITE: PetersonforUtah.com

About Peterson for Utah

Chris Peterson is a fifth generation Utahn with deep pioneer roots who has spent his career fighting for working families. A professor of business law at the University of Utah and recognized authority on consumer protection, he has worked tirelessly to help industry to improve the lives of their employees and customers.

Lt. Gov. candidate Karina Brown is President of the Cache County Friends of the Children’s Justice Center Board and was a founding sponsor of the Medicaid Expansion ballot initiative (Proposition 3) adopted by Utah voters in 2018. She also serves on the Cache Valley Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and is Co-Chair of the Cache Chamber Legislative Affairs Committee.

Democrats advanced Chris Peterson for Utah with 88.4% of votes during the Democratic Primary Convention in April.