USDA expands program to offer kids food over the summer

April 30, 2021
Miranda Hester

Ms. Hester is Content Specialist with Contemporary OB/GYN and Contemporary Pediatrics.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, which provided nutrition to children that previously would have been offered by schools, would be extended to the summer months.

In the early days of the pandemic when schools closed down, one of the major concerns was how many children were no longer going to have access to school meals. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) stepped in and created Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits which provided money to families to make up for meals no longer available because of school closure. As always, the summertime poses another quandary for ensuring the children get necessary nutrition with summer feeding programs typically reaching only 20% of children who qualify. To tackle the problem for the 2021 summer, the USDA has announced that P-EBT benefits are available for all low-income children of all ages through funding from the American Rescue Plan.1

The program is built on information garnered from the department’s Summer EBT pilots, which started in 2011, and have a track record of reducing food insecurity and improving the quality of diet for many children. Research has shown that the P-EBT program has similarly improved food security for many children during the pandemic.

Children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals in school or are aged younger than 6 years and live in a home that receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits can receive benefits from the program. Families will receive approximately $6.82 per child, per weekday during the summer months. The benefits will be available via an EBT card.

The press release also included other nutrition assistance benefits that the American Rescue Act will provide such as:

  • Offering funding through Child and Adult Care Food Program emergency shelters for young adults who are unhoused
  • Funding of $900 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, which increases temporarily fruit and vegetable vouchers to $35 per month as well as infrastructure improvements
  • Extending the 15% increase in SNAP benefits through September 2021
  • Continuing to provide free meals to all children in schools and childcare organizations for the 2021-2022 academic year
  • Adding $1.1 billion in funding to territories for nutrition assistance block grants

Reference

1. US Department of Agriculture. USDA to provide critical nutrition assistance to 30M+ kids over the summer. Published April 26, 2021. Accessed April 27, 2021. https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2021/04/26/usda-provide-critical-nutrition-assistance-30m-kids-over-summer