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USDA to expand summer nutrition assistance for children

Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 1:58 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced a new effort funded by the American Rescue Plan to provide nutrition assistance to more than 30 million children over the summer by expanding Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits.

P-EBT was established in March 2020 to provide food dollars to families to make up for meals missed when schools have closed due to COVID-19. The program was set to expire on September 30, 2021, but through the American Rescue Plan Act, benefits are now available for the duration of the pandemic, including during the summer months.

“The expansion of P-EBT benefits over the summer is a first-of-its-kind, game-changing intervention to reduce child hunger in the United States,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Vilsack says children are eligible for this temporary nutrition benefit if they are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year, or if they are under age six and live in a SNAP household. Families of eligible children would typically receive $6.82 per child, per weekday, or roughly $375 per child over the summer month. The funds would be loaded onto an EBT card that can then be used to purchase food.

Vilscak says P-EBT builds on lessons learned from USDA’s Summer EBT pilots, which began in 2011 and have proven successful at reducing severe food insecurity as well as improving the quality of children’s diets.

“I think it’s important to trust parents. They are going to do the right thing for their children,” said USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack. “In most circumstances, we give them the trust, we give them the resource, we give them the information about what’s best for their youngsters in terms of their nutritional needs. We trust them to make the right decisions. We know from experience that those are the decisions they will, in fact, make.”

Vilsack says parents who are eligible will automatically be enrolled in the program.

For more information about P-EBT, you can visit the P-EBT website.

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