USDA expands Pandemic EBT to feed 30 million children over summer

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 4:29 PM CDT
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MOSELLE, Miss. (WDAM) - If you or someone you know is worried about feeding your kids during the summer months, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a plan in the works. It is expanding the Pandemic EBT program.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack tells us this is a pioneering program.

“There was no program like this,” Vilsack said. “This is the first-ever effort to try to cover the wide range of students who are covered during the school year, but not during the summer.”

The program will provide food to more than 30 million children over the summer.

“Zero to 18 years of age can benefit from this program,” Vilsack said.

Vilsack said states have to get their plans of how they will distribute the resources for the program approved.

“Cause they are the ones who have the record of who the free and reduced lunches are in their respective school districts,” Vilsack said.

Created under the Family’s First Coronavirus Response Act, P-EBT provides benefits very similar to SNAP benefits. But it’s only for children that receive free or reduced meals at school. The funds are loaded on EBT cards and can be used at SNAP-authorized retailers.

“Enabling those parents to have up to $375, roughly, during the summer months to be able to pay for additional, nutritional needs for their children,” Vilsack said.

Reports show when school is out, summer feeding programs, a lifeline for some families, only reach less than 20% of the number served during the school year. According to USDA, in Mississippi, with the expansion of P-EBT, a projected 400,000 kids could benefit this summer, which means food on the table for low-income children.

Vilsack says parents don’t have to do anything, there is nothing to apply for, parents are automatically enrolled in the program as long as the state gets its plan approved before the summer starts.

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