(Indiana News Service) Many Indiana families will have an easier time feeding their children this summer.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced an extension of the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program.
The program was first launched in March 2020 to reach children who qualify for free and reduced-price meals at school but weren’t able to attend in person.
Kate Howe, executive director of the Indy Hunger Network, said the extension is a game changer during months when it’s hard to reach kids.
She noted summer meals typically are provided through schools, community centers and other organizations.
“But there are some serious limitations to that program in the way that the money can be spent,” Howe explained. “And so P-EBT will allow families to buy food for their kids to eat at home rather than having to go to a meal site to get a meal in the summertime when school’s out.”
Families will receive close to $7 per child per weekday, or about $375 per month. Nearly 650,000 Indiana children are expected to qualify, and benefits to the state will total more than $240 million, according to the USDA. Those numbers include benefits for children from birth to age six who are not in school.
Howe pointed out people may not realize the free and reduced-price school meal program is one of the biggest food programs in the country.
“The pandemic has really highlighted how many kids get fed at school and how important those free and reduced-price lunch and school breakfast are for feeding kids,” Howe remarked.
The P-EBT program is partially based on the summer EBT program for children, which the USDA has piloted around the country since 2011. Howe hopes the agency extends the program once the pandemic ends.