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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

Go deeper

UN, Venezuela reach deal to provide food to 185,000 children

A woman braids her daughter's hair in Caracas, Venezuela. Photo: Matias Delacroix/AFP via Getty Images

Venezuela’s government and the United Nations’ food program have reached a deal for the international agency to directly provide meals for children in the South American country.

Why it matters: School children have been acutely affected by the food scarcity and high food prices in Venezuela. Some have fainted or even died from hunger or from eating poisonous tubers when they try to forage for meals.

USDA chief: Biden won't cut red meat consumption

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday that President Biden has no plans to cut red meat consumption as part of his efforts to combat climate change, Politico reports.

Why it matters: Conservative lawmakers and pundits had spread baseless claims that Biden's wide-ranging climate action plan includes a proposal to reduce red meat consumption by 90% and limit people to four pounds of red meat per year.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 3 hours ago - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.