May 17, 2022

With summer fast approaching, and Congress’s failure to extend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) child nutrition waiver authority –which will significantly limit access to summer meals— Pandemic EBT (P-EBT ) will be even more important this summer to both school-age and young children.

Children can utilize both the Pandemic EBT program as well as visit meal sites this summer. Summer P-EBT provides benefits to families on an EBT card to purchase food to replace the school meals they lost access to during the summer months. These complimentary programs can help ensure that children have access to healthy, nutritious meals throughout the summer. In the summer of 2021, 47 states, 3 territories, and the District of Columbia distributed an estimated $10.9 billion to families in Summer P-EBT benefits.

On May 9, USDA released its summer 2022 P-EBT guidance, which includes a Q&AState Plan Template, and Policy Memo. This year’s guidance is similar to summer 2021, with a few important things to note:

  • States must have either an approved school-age or child care P-EBT plan for school year 2021–2022 in order to submit a summer 2022 P-EBT plan. The approval of either type of school year plan allows the state to submit a summer plan to provide P-EBT benefits to both school-age and young children.
  • The standard benefit for the summer of 2022 is $391. Similar to last year,  students who are certified as eligible for free or reduced-price school meals before the end of the covered summer period are eligible for the full benefit. Children also can be certified to receive the full benefit if they become eligible for free or reduced-price school meals during the summer.
  • Pandemic EBT benefits are only available to children ages 0-6 whose households participate in SNAP or who begin participating in SNAP during the Public Health Emergency (PHE), which is currently set to expire July 9. If it is extended, USDA will release guidance on providing children 0-6 on SNAP the remainder of the full benefit for the summer, which would be an additional $200.

As school year 2021–2022 comes to a close, less than 30 states have an approved school-age plan, and less than 10 have an approved child care plan; many are still working to finalize their plans. States have struggled this year to pull together an approvable P-EBT plan for school-age students.

To support states, USDA has developed a template child care plan for each state, including the expected benefit amounts, that can be easily utilized. These plans are significantly simpler for states to implement. Benefits are provided to young children who are already receiving SNAP. The benefit amount can be the same for all eligible children in the state, and it can simply be based on the percent difference between the number of lunches served through the Child and Adult Care Food Program at child care centers and homes prior to the pandemic compared to those served during this school year. In addition, USDA is offering intensive technical assistance (TA) to help states get plans in place so they can provide summer benefits. This TA includes a state specific child care P-EBT template that was sent to each state that just needs to be filled out.

With USDA’s additional support to help states develop child care plans, every state has the tools needed to have a child care plan approved for this school year, which will allow them to provide much-needed Pandemic EBT benefits this summer.