Pandemic EBT now available in all 50 states
WASHINGTON, August 19, 2020 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the approval of Idaho to operate Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT). This new program, authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and signed by President Trump, provides the value of school breakfast and lunch to families of children who would otherwise receive free and reduced-price school meals, if not for COVID-related school closures.
Eligible Idaho households will receive Pandemic EBT as either a supplemental food purchasing benefit for current SNAP participants, or as a new EBT benefit for non-SNAP households to offset the cost of meals that would have otherwise been eaten at school.
During the 2019-2020 school year, Idaho had approximately 130,000 children eligible for free and reduced-priced lunch, or approximately 43% of children in participating schools. Each eligible family will receive an average of $5.70 for each day school was out due to the pandemic.
Under FFCRA, states have the option to submit a plan to the Secretary of Agriculture for providing Pandemic EBT benefits to SNAP and non-SNAP households with children who temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to pandemic-related school closures. State agencies may operate Pandemic EBT if a school is closed for at least five consecutive days during a public health emergency designation when the school would otherwise be in session.
With Idaho’s approval, all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and U.S. Virgin Islands have been approved for Pandemic EBT. Previous announcements of approvals include: Michigan, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Arizona, Illinois, Alabama, Wisconsin, California, Connecticut, Kansas, Virginia, Maryland, New Mexico, Delaware, Oregon, Maine, North Dakota, West Virginia, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Jersey, Ohio, New Hampshire, Indiana, Louisiana, Colorado, Missouri, Wyoming, Kentucky, Tennessee, District of Columbia, Arkansas, Washington, Florida, Minnesota, Hawaii, Mississippi, Alaska, Georgia, Iowa, the US Virgin Islands, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Montana, Utah, and Nevada.
The implementation of Pandemic EBT is in line with USDA’s commitment to keep Americans safe, secure, and healthy during this national emergency and to keep kids fed when schools are closed. USDA is working with states and local authorities to ensure schools and other program operators can continue to feed children. This latest action complements previously-announced flexibilities for the child nutrition programs that:
- Allow parents and guardians to pick up meals to bring home to their kids;
- Temporarily waive meal times requirements to make it easier to pick up multiple-days’ worth of meals at once;
- Allow meals be served in non-congregate settings to support social distancing;
- Waive the requirement that afterschool meals and snacks served through certain programs be accompanied by educational activities to minimize exposure to the novel coronavirus; and
- Allow states to serve free meals to children through the summer in all areas, rather than only those in areas where at least half of students receive free or reduced-price meals.
Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of actions that USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has taken to uphold the USDA’s commitment to “Do Right and Feed Everyone” during this national emergency. Other actions include:
- Launching a new coronavirus webpage to proactively inform the public about USDA’s efforts to keep children and families fed;
- Providing more than five million meals a week through public-private partnership Meals to You;
- Increasing access to online purchasing by expanding the online purchasing pilot to more than 97% of all SNAP households;
- Debuting “Meals for Kids” interactive site finder – to help families find meals for children while schools are closed across more than 78,000 locations;
- Allowing states to issue emergency supplemental SNAP benefits totaling more than $2 billion per month to increase recipients’ purchasing power;
- Collecting solutions to feeding children impacted through email@example.com; and
- Providing more than 3,000 administrative flexibilities across programs to feed children and help families.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy. Follow us on Twitter at @USDANutrition.
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