U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that Indiana has been approved to operate Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), a new program authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), signed by President Trump, which provides assistance to families of children eligible for free or reduced-price meals dealing with school closures.
Indiana will be able to operate Pandemic EBT, a supplemental food purchasing benefit to current SNAP participants and as a new EBT benefit to other eligible households to offset the cost of meals that would have otherwise been consumed at school.
For the 2019-2020 school year, Indiana had approximately 588,127 children eligible for free and reduced-priced lunch, or approximately 53% of children in participating schools.
This latest action complements previously-announced flexibilities for the Child Nutrition programs that:
-Allow parents and guardians to pick up meals to bring home to their kids;
-Temporarily waive meal times requirements to make it easier to pick up multiple-days’ worth of meals at once;
-Allow meals be served in non-congregate settings to support social distancing;
-Waive the requirement that afterschool meals and snacks served through certain programs be accompanied by educational activities to minimize exposure to the novel coronavirus; and
-Allow states, on an individual state-by-state basis, to serve free meals to children in all areas, rather than only those in areas where at least half of students receive free or reduced-price meals.
The announcement is the latest in a series of actions that USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has taken to uphold the USDA’s commitment to “Do Right and Feed Everyone” during this national emergency. Other actions include:
-Launching a new coronavirus webpage to proactively inform the public about USDA’s efforts to keep children and families fed;
-Providing more than five million meals a week through public-private partnership Meals to You;
-Increasing access to online purchasing by expanding the online purchasing pilot to more than half of all SNAP households;
-Debuting “Meals for Kids” interactive site finder – to help families find meals for children while schools are closed across more than 38,000 locations;
-Allowing states to issue emergency supplemental SNAP benefits totaling more than $2 billion per month to increase recipients’ purchasing power;
-Collecting solutions to feeding children impacted through firstname.lastname@example.org; and
-Providing more than 1,500 administrative flexibilities in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to allow for social distancing.
To learn more about FNS’s response to COVID-19, visit www.fns.usda.gov/coronavirus.