[Vision2020] Biden administration to launch largest summer food program in U.S. history
thansen at moscow.com
Mon Apr 26 06:44:55 PDT 2021
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Courtesy of NBC News at:
Biden administration to launch largest summer food program in U.S. history
The plan will provide up to 34 million kids about $375 each to buy food for the roughly 10 weeks they are out of school in the summer.
The Biden administration on Monday will announce the launch of a summer food program to feed more than 30 million low-income children, the Agriculture Department told NBC News.
It is the latest push by the White House to address widespread hunger and food insecurity in the U.S., one the agency said it believes is the largest summer food program in the country's history.
"Congress, through the American Rescue Plan, expanded this program to operate during the summer, which I think was just highly responsive to what we need right now," said Stacy Dean, the deputy under secretary of agriculture for food, nutrition and consumer services. "We know that summer hunger is a problem in normal years, but obviously this year, with heightened food hardship as a result of the pandemic, we're happy to deploy the program this summer."
The plan will provide up to 34 million children about $375 each to buy food for the roughly 10 weeks they are out of school in the summer. That's when impoverished children have long struggled with hunger, as free or reduced-price lunch school programs that guarantee meals don't operate then. That's around $7 a weekday.
Kids under 6 who qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and children who receive free or reduced-price lunch qualify for the program and will be enrolled automatically. Their parents or guardians will get the cards, known as Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, or P-EBT, cards, in the mail from their state agencies. Congress has funded the program for the summers of 2021 and 2022.
Parents should begin receiving the cards in the coming weeks, but their arrivals could depend on their states. The delivery of P-EBT cards has been delayed in some states over the past year.
The card has the same limits as SNAP benefits. They can be used to buy fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, breads, cereals and some other foods. They can't be used to buy items like alcohol, tobacco, medications, hot foods or any nonfood items.
Sizi Goyah, a math teacher at Brooklyn Center High School in Minnesota, said he and his colleagues often talk about how their students take a few steps back academically over the summer. But he said he has also noticed that some of them return to their desks after those months appearing as though they have lost weight and are hungry.
"This will be huge for families here," said Goyah, who is a member of the Liberian immigrant community in Brooklyn Center, a site of national attention after police killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop this month. "Now I know that when all my kids are gone for the summer, the ones who aren't from economically strong families will have access to a meal."
Goyah said that even during the school year, food insecurity is still a problem among his students. It's one reason that, after Wright's death, he has helped with a food drive at his school, which has provided food to thousands of people in the area.
A $1,000 fundraiser for the food drive has brought in more than $120,000. The help has been needed, especially because of the hardship created by the coronavirus pandemic.
"The damage has always been there, but the pandemic has acted as the great revealer," Goyah said. "The inequities and challenges are not new. We can just see them clearly now."
Congress created P-EBT early in the pandemic to replace the meals low-income children were missing when restrictions were imposed on proximity. Expanding it into the summer is in essence a new program that hunger advocates and experts have long called for.
Typically children are limited to the Agriculture Department's Summer Food Service Program, which critics say comes with a large amount of bureaucracy that limits its effectiveness. The summer programs reach only 16 percent of the children who need food assistance when school is out of session, according to the nonprofit No Kid Hungry.
Direct payments for food, such as those done through SNAP, are much more effective, experts said. But they come with a hefty cost.
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