FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Julia Isaacs Tse
Over 170,600 Nebraska Children Eligible for Federal Pandemic Food Assistance
Omaha, NE – Nebraska children in low-income households have lost access to low or no-cost meals due to school closures amidst the COVID-19 public health emergency. In response, Congress authorized the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program in the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) to address the loss of access to food for school children in low-income households. In order to participate in and receive funding from the P-EBT program, states must work with their education officials to identify eligible students and submit a proposal as the to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
A report released today by Voices for Children in Nebraska notes that Nebraska has not yet applied for P-EBT funding. The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have drastically increased the number of Nebraska families applying for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reporting a 35% increase in applications from February to March. Over 17% of all Nebraska children were food insecure well before the start of the pandemic.
If Nebraska were to apply for and receive P-EBT funding, the benefits would be retroactive, and each child would be issued $5.70 per day of school closure. Eligible children in households that already participate in SNAP would receive an additional benefit amount on their EBT card, while eligible children in a household that does not already participate in SNAP would receive benefits in a new EBT card. In total, P-EBT would help cover the cost of food for 170,596 Nebraska children in low-income households and provide an estimated $53.5 million in federal funds to be spent in local grocery stores.
“There’s no time to waste”, said Julia Isaacs Tse, policy coordinator for Voices for Children. “The P-EBT option is a common-sense solution to rising food insecurity during this pandemic. Twelve other states, and counting, have already received approval for their P-EBT plans, and Nebraska kids deserve their fair share.”
The full report can be found at https://voicesforchildren.com/policy/covid/pebt/.
Voices for Children in Nebraska is the independent voice building pathways to opportunity for all children and families through research, policy, and community engagement. Our policy priorities are guided by research, data and proven best practices that improve child wellbeing. We pay close attention to the impact of race, poverty and geography, and seek to address existing disparities within these issue areas.
For more information about Voices for Children visit www.voicesforchildren.com.