USDA Expands Program That May Help Feed 30 Million-Plus Children This Summer

by Natasha Gabrielle | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on May 11, 2021

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A mom carrying her baby while her daughter walks next to her through the produce section of a grocery store.

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Your child may be eligible for an extended summer food program. Keep reading to learn more.

When schools close for the year and students begin their summer vacations, some families find it challenging to provide enough meals. Since children are home more during the day, more meals need to be provided. This can cause significant financial stress for parents who are already struggling with personal finances.

Fortunately, the USDA recently announced an extension to a food aid program, funded by the American Rescue Plan, that will help the families of more than 30 million kids this summer. Keep reading to learn more.

The P-EBT program extension will help feed 30 million kids this summer

As the pandemic continues, many families still struggle to put food on the table. While free and reduced-cost lunch programs can be helpful during the school year, children still need food during the summer months.

That's why the USDA will be expanding its Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program. All low-income children, regardless of age, will be eligible to receive P-EBT benefits. The program hopes to reduce childhood hunger and ensure that all children have access to the meals that they need to stay healthy.

Many families relied on school-provided meals to feed their children, and when schools shut down and went virtual, those meals disappeared. The P-EBT program was established in early 2020 to provide funds to families to make it easier to afford meals when schools closed due to COVID-19. Funds were loaded onto EBT cards and could be used to purchase food.

The program was originally set to expire on Sept. 30, 2020. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act, those benefits are no longer ending and will be in place for the duration of the pandemic. That includes the summer months when students are no longer in the classroom. The USDA estimates that this program extension will help feed over 30 million children this summer.

This program expansion is one of many efforts that have been made to reduce child hunger. The American Rescue Plan Act also included funding for enhanced food benefits, which increased SNAP benefits by 15% through Sept. 30, 2021.

Children will be able to participate in this expanded summer program if they're eligible to receive free or reduced-cost meals during the school year. Children under the age of 6 can also qualify if they live in a household that currently receives SNAP benefits. Exact amounts vary, but on average, families can expect to receive about $375 per child to help with the cost of food this summer.

If you're unsure if you qualify for this benefit or want to learn more, you can reach out to your state's benefits office.

More resources are available amid the pandemic

If your family is facing financial worry throughout the pandemic, know that you're not alone in your struggles. There are resources available to help you get through the tough times. Don't be afraid to explore all options available to you. They're there for a reason!

Here are some specific resources that may be of interest to you and your family:

You can also take a look at our coronavirus resources portal to find more helpful information.

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