Apr 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

USDA extends program to feed 30 million children over the summer

Two people push a cart of packed paper-bag lunches
A Pennsylvannia elementary school prepares grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

The Department of Agriculture has extended a pandemic benefits program to provide meals to roughly 30 million children from low-income families over this summer, it announced in a press release Monday.

Why it matters: The extension of the benefits program is funded by the American Rescue Plan is part of a greater effort by the USDA to provide food security to low-income schoolchildren during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The big picture: The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program was established in March 2020 to "to provide food dollars to families to make up for meals missed when schools have closed due to COVID-19," per the press release.

  • The program was set to expire in September 2021 but the Biden administration's $1.9 trillion relief bill has allowed the program to be extended through the end of the pandemic, including summer months when school is out of session.

What they're saying: “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 the 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.”

Go deeper: USDA to boost SNAP benefits for 25 million Americans

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