Thursday, April 14, 2016

Summer EBT extended, but not to the North Country

USDA recently announced $26.9 million in grant funds to be distributed among eight grantees to continue administering pilots of the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) programs, providing summertime nutrition assistance to children who receive free and reduced price meals during the school year. In addition to funding existing pilots for summer2016, these grants will extend benefits to new rural areas, Tribal Nations, and areas of extreme need.  Unfortunately, the North Country is not among the areas receiving this funding.

Summer EBT provides a monthly benefit on a debit-type card that can be used throughout the summer for food purchases at authorized stores. Summer EBT is a complement to traditional summer meals programs, which offer no cost summer meals at approved sites, and is especially valuable in areas with limited or no access to traditional summer meals programs.

Summer EBT, which is currently operating as demonstration project, was first funded by Congress in 2010. Rigorous evaluations of these pilots found that Summer EBT can significantly reduce very low food security among children, the most severe form of food insecurity, by one-third. Studies also showed that these additional resources enabled families to eat more healthfully, eating significantly more fruits and vegetables and whole grains – key building blocks to better health. Based on these proven successes, the President's proposed plan would allow Summer EBT to reach nearly 20 million children once fully implemented.