Gillibrand, Schumer urge USDA to approve Pandemic EBT program in NY

Posted 30 April 2020 at 9:44 am

Press Release, U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer are calling on the Trump administration to quickly approve New York State’s request to operate the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program authorized under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

As schools across the country close indefinitely in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the senators urged USDA to approve New York’s program to provide nutritional resources to families that have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals. New York State submitted their plan for P-EBT on March 25, yet its approval is still pending.

“While several states across the country have been approved to operate P-EBT, New York State — which is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak — has been stuck in limbo as school-age children throughout New York go hungry,” said Senator Gillibrand. “New York schools have been closed for over a month and with no end in sight to these measures, it’s clear this program is desperately needed. We can no longer delay getting food to those that need it most and I urge the administration to quickly approve New York State’s request.”

The P-EBT program created under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act would provide assistance to families of children eligible for free or reduced-price meals dealing with school closures. P-EBT would send eligible households an EBT card with the value of free school breakfast and lunch for the days that schools are closed, if they’ve been closed for more than 5 consecutive days due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program would permit New York State to provide benefits similar to SNAP benefits to more than 1.4 million children in the state who normally receive free or reduced price school meals and those who attend schools that offer free meals to all students.

“Let me be clear, no child should ever go to bed hungry, which is why I am deeply concerned that the Department of Agriculture has yet to approve the P-EBT program for easier access to school lunches in hardest-hit New York,” said Senator Schumer. “Over half of New York State’s public school students receive free or reduced-price school meals, and thousands of children are now left high and dry with school closures. We must get this food assistance to these students and their families as soon as possible and ensure that New York’s hungry children are fed.”

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