SNAP Update: Summer EBT Program To Be Made Permanent — How It Helps Fight Food Insecurity

Mother and children eating meal in food bank soup kitchen stock photo
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The House voted 225 to 201 on Friday, Dec. 23 in favor of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which includes $40 million for making permanent a pandemic-era summer EBT (P-EBT) program for eligible school children.

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The P-EBT program, available during the summer when school is out of session, provides the following to eligible kids:

  • Temporary emergency nutrition benefits loaded on EBT cards that are used to purchase food — up to $40 per child each month.
  • Grab-and-go or delivery options for summer meals in rural areas.
  • Up to 10 days’ worth of meals to take home instead of being required to eat them all at meal sites.
  • Children who would have received free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Act if their schools were not closed or operating with reduced hours or attendance for at least 5 consecutive days are eligible to receive P-EBT benefits.
  • Benefits to younger children in households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) whose covered child care facility is closed or operating with reduced hours or attendance, or who live in the area of schools that are closed or operating with reduced hours or attendance.
  • P-EBT is available to all school children who were eligible to receive free or reduced price meals during the current school year, and to school children who are newly determined eligible for meal benefits during the summer months in states that have an approved SY 2021-22 plan for school children and/or children in child care.
  • P-EBT is available to all children under 6 years of age who are enrolled in SNAP during the summer.

News that the pandemic-era summer EBT benefits will be made permanent should bring great relief to millions of families. The program has been highly effective in combating food insecurity. Food hardship dropped drastically after pandemic relief measures were put into place in late 2020 and early 2021, but it has been climbing since the summer of 2021, the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey found. Among households with children, nearly 12 million adults said in early May 2022 that their households didn’t have enough to eat during the previous week, an increase of 4.1 million from early August 2021.

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The bill also includes $30 million for school kitchen equipment grants and $3 million for school breakfast expansion grants.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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