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Jordan Baker                                                              

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2023 Nine states have not yet submitted plans to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide summer benefits through the Pandemic EBT Program. If they do not do so by July 14, millions of families will be left struggling to make ends meet this summer when they lose access to school meals, says the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC).  

Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Texas have not submitted summer plans for Pandemic EBT, which provides an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card with grocery benefits to families whose children are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. USDA recently gave states more time to distribute the summer benefits, addressing a barrier that was making it difficult for some states to participate.    

“Summer should be a time of fun and making memories, not a time of hunger,” said Luis Guardia, president of FRAC. “We urge states to act quickly to submit their plans for Pandemic EBT, so children get the nutrition they need over the summer. This is a critical step to fuel children’s bodies so they can return to the classroom next school year healthy and ready to learn.” 

Congress created the Pandemic EBT Program in March 2020 to replace the school breakfasts and lunches families lost when schools closed and expanded the program to provide summer benefits beginning in 2022. The program is modeled after the successful Summer EBT demonstration projects, which were shown to reduce food insecurity and improve nutrition. Pandemic EBT also has helped reduce food insecurity.

FRAC surveyed 153 parents and guardians who received Pandemic EBT benefits at some point during the last three years. The survey aimed to better understand the impact of providing grocery benefits to families when their children lost access to free or reduced-price school meals and the experience families had in accessing benefits. All but two of the families surveyed reported that receiving Pandemic EBT benefits played an important role in helping to ensure that their family had the food they needed. 

Parents and guardians reported that the benefits: 

  • allowed them to worry less about having enough food (109); 
  • allowed their family to have enough food through the month (98);  
  • allowed them to purchase more nutritious food (83); and 
  • allowed them to pay other bills, like rent and utilities (73). 

This summer will be the last year that summer benefits are provided through the Pandemic EBT Program, and they will only be available to school-age children. Beginning in 2024, states will provide summer benefits for school-age children through the new, nationwide Summer EBT Program, which will continue to provide critical summer benefits to help families overcome summer hunger.


The Food Research & Action Center improves the nutrition, health, and well-being of people struggling against poverty-related hunger in the United States through advocacy, partnerships, and by advancing bold and equitable policy solutions. To learn more, visit and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.