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Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey have joined the Summer EBT Program, a permanent initiative to decrease food insecurity among students and families during the summer months.
According to a press release, it will provide $120 per eligible child for the summer or $40 per month for June, July and August.
Children 6-17 who are income-eligible will qualify, and most will be automatically enrolled. Children younger than eight and older than 18 must be enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). The program’s not new; the USDA has run pilot versions since 2011. However, after it expanded to great success during the pandemic, the department decided to make the program permanent nationwide.
Dr. Val Arkoosh, secretary at the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services, said the office has been focused to address food insecurity during weekends, winter and summer. Arkoosh expressed gratitude for Gov. Josh Shapiro’s support of the new program.
“It has long been recognized that children really benefit from the meals that they get at school and that for many children, weekends, any holiday vacations and certainly the summer break can really add to any existing food insecurity in the household,” she said.
“This summer EBT program will be another tool in our toolbox to help reduce that food insecurity over those very long summer months when even the most well-intentioned volunteer organizations often struggle to have enough resources to provide assistance for that entire summer vacation.”
A USDA spokesperson was unavailable to comment in time of this publication.
Food insecurity is one of the most pressing issues that impact a child’s quality of life, experts say.
“[It’s] not just about not being physically hungry. It is about not having consistent access to affordable, nutritionally sound food so folks can live a full life,” said Natalie Shaak, with the Center for Hunger-Free Communities at Drexel University.