WASHINGTON, March 25, 2021 — D.C. Hunger Solutions commends the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for approving D.C.’s Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (Pandemic EBT) plan, which will provide food assistance benefits to children who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to COVID-19-related school closures through June 24, 2021. The recently passed American Rescue Plan will allow families to receive benefits through summer vacation.
This extension of Pandemic EBT benefits through this school year will provide children with the nutrition they need to learn while school is remote:
- it allows eligible families to receive public benefits to purchase food for both school-aged children and children under the age of six years old;
- it allows D.C. to issue benefits beginning this spring; and
- it allows D.C. to provide benefits for children under the age of six as of October 1, 2020, to households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The Pandemic EBT program provides families with an EBT card containing the daily value of the school breakfast, lunch, and snack free reimbursement rates during the 2020-2021 school year (a total of $6.82 daily), allowing families who rely on school meals to keep hunger at bay.
Children in D.C. and across the country lost access to school meals when schools closed, resulting in an increase in food insecurity with a disproportionate impact among Black and Latinx families. Pandemic EBT benefits are critical to overcoming the food insecurity created by school closures.
Pandemic EBT became a lifeline for low-income households who were unable to grab breakfast or lunch at pick-up sites, closing the nutrition gap and minimizing food insecurity across the District.
Households with children in Pre-Kindergarten to twelfth grade that already receiving free school meals at D.C. Public Schools or public charter schools are eligible for Pandemic EBT. This includes income-eligible families who have submitted a Free and Reduced-priced Meals (FARM) application, families receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds, and all families with students attending a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school. For families receiving SNAP and TANF, benefits will automatically be uploaded onto their EBT card. Families who were issued P-EBT benefits last year will receive benefits on the same card. Families that do not currently have an EBT card will be mailed one. For further assistance, they can contact the D.C. Department of Human Services by visiting dhs.dc.gov/p-ebt.
Looking forward, D.C. Hunger Solutions encourages the USDA to make Pandemic EBT a long-term option for D.C. residents who are most vulnerable and have the most need. We also encourage the D.C. Council to support D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) in implementing a pilot school meal delivery program to compliment Pandemic EBT to ensure children have access to healthy school meals, which help them learn whether they are in the classroom or attending classes remotely. Through delivery programs, busy families can easily, conveniently, and affordably receive school breakfast and lunch at their doorstep.
About D.C. Hunger Solutions:
D.C. Hunger Solutions, founded in 2002 as an initiative of the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), works to create a hunger-free community and improve the nutrition, health, economic security, and well-being of low-income people in the District of Columbia. To learn more about D.C. Hunger Solutions, visit www.dchunger.org