BOSTON (SHNS) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday confirmed plans, funded by the American Rescue Plan, to provide adequate nutrition to more than 30 million children over the summer by expanding Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits.
The P-EBT benefit was established at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to help eligible families access meals missed when schools closed due to COVID-19.
The program was set to expire on Sept. 30, 2021 but benefits will be available for the duration of the pandemic due to measures in the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA.
Children are eligible for the benefit, which is loaded onto an EBT card that can be used to purchase food, 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, according to the USDA.
Families of eligible children typically receive $6.82 per child, per weekday, or roughly $375 per child over the summer months. The federal agency said summer feeding programs typically reach less than 20 percent of the number of people served during the school year.
“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,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “By providing low-income families with a simple benefit over the summer months, USDA is using an evidenced-based solution to drive down hunger and ensure no child has to miss a meal.”