Statement attributable to Luis Guardia, President, Food Research & Action Center
WASHINGTON, January 29, 2021 –The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) is pleased that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released new guidance to ensure more children receive the nutrition they need for their health, learning, and development through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program.
P-EBT provides nutritional resources to families who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to school closures. Families will receive money on a new or existing EBT card to help fill the school meals gap.
Under the guidance, children under 6 years old who live in households that participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) now will be eligible for P-EBT benefits when their childcare center is closed. This valuable new benefit will bring approximately $4 billion in money for food to families of young children.
This guidance allows states to streamline eligibility and distribution using broadly defined areas to bring benefits to more children.
FRAC encourages states to make full use of the new opportunities provided by the guidance and to quickly submit their P-EBT plans to USDA. FRAC also calls on USDA to quickly approve states’ plans to ensure that families get the nutrition they need as soon as possible to mitigate the alarming spikes in childhood hunger caused by COVID-19.
Families would be far worse off if not for federal nutrition assistance like P-EBT.
According to Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research, 27.8 percent of respondents with children experienced food insecurity over the last seven days between January 6–18, 2021. Low-income households with young children are more likely to face decreased income, financial difficulties, and material hardship (difficulties meeting basic needs, including food, housing, and utilities). A greater proportion of Black and Latinx households with young children are experiencing financial and material hardship compared to other families.
Since its inception, P-EBT has provided nearly $10.7 billion in nutrition benefits from March 2020 through September 2020 to millions of families who lost access to free and reduced-price school meals when schools closed due to the pandemic.
For 50 years, the Food Research & Action Center has been the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States. To learn more, visit FRAC.org and follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.