How to provide children with free meals during school hours

A little boy received food in a bag from the bus driver.

A student collects food in Fayette, Mississippi. There are federal programs to help children get enough food throughout the summer. Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press Photo

After school every summer, millions of families are struggling with food insecurity. The loss of income from the pandemic will only exacerbate this situation.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), as many as 12 million children currently live in families where they may not have enough food.

If you are worried about how to put food on your family’s table, here is helpful.

How to provide kids with free meals this summer: 3 federal programs

The United States Rescue Plan — the Coronavirus Relief Plan that President Joe Biden signed into law in March 2021 — provided funding for the expansion of several USDA programs aimed at reducing child hunger.

1. Pandemic EBT

Families with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches and families who are eligible for SNAP benefits can receive additional food expenses through the pandemic EBT program, which is Extended to summer To make up for missed school meals.

The USDA standard benefit amount during the summer period is $375 per eligible child. People living in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands enjoy higher standard benefits.

You need to register for the pandemic EBT plan through your state because the funds are paid at the state level. right now, 28 states The pandemic EBT program has been approved in the summer.

Throughout the summer, funds are usually allocated in two to three pennies.

2. U.S. Department of Agriculture Summer Meals

All families with children 18 years and younger can participate U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Meal Plan, It cooperates with local institutions including libraries, community centers, parks, churches, and schools to distribute meals.

The program rules have been relaxed so that bulk food can be distributed to cover multiple days, so parents can pick up food without their children present.

This Interactive map Help you find a local meal delivery site. You can also find nearby sites by texting “Summer Meals” to 97779 or calling 1-866-348-6479.

3. U.S. Department of Agriculture National Hunger Hotline

This U.S. Department of Agriculture National Hunger Hotline Can help families seeking food assistance. Call 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479) Monday to Friday from 7 am to 10 pm Eastern Time to call the hotline. If you need help in Spanish, please call 1-877-8-HAMBRE (1-877-842-6273).

Free meals for the next academic year

Even after the summer vacation, the family can still get financial rest in raising children.The USDA is expanding its national school lunch program seamless summer options to allow Students can get a universal free lunch throughout the 2021-2022 school year. Free meals for children in daycare and preschool will also be exempted.

If your students are still studying virtual, you will be able to pick up meals at home. Please consult your child’s school or childcare provider to see if they are participating in the program.

Nicole Dow is the senior writer of The Penny Hoarder.

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About the Author: Agnes Zang