May 07, 2020

Following Push From Gillibrand And Schumer, USDA Approves New York State’s Pandemic EBT Program

P-EBT Will Provide Critical Funds to Families Whose Children Usually Rely on Free or Reduced-Price School Meals; NYS Request Had Stalled; Gillibrand and Schumer Urged USDA to Approve on April 29

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced that, following their push, the Trump administration approved New York State’s request to operate the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program authorized under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  

New York State had submitted their plan for P-EBT—which provides nutritional resources to families that have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals—on March 25, 2020. However, approval for the program was still pending on April 29, 2020, when the senators sent a letter to the USDA urging quick approval. A week later, the administration approved the request. 

“The Department of Agriculture has done the right thing by heeding our call and approving New York’s P-EBT program for easier access to school lunches,” said Senator Schumer. “Over half of New York State’s public school students receive free or reduced-price school meals, and thousands of children need food assistance due to school closures. This program will get the necessary food assistance to these students and their families as soon as possible and ensure that New York’s hungry children are fed.”

“No child should ever go hungry and I am pleased that the Trump administration listened to our request and approved New York State’s P-EBT program,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Thousands of New York school children depend on school meals and this program will ensure they continue to go to bed with full stomachs.”

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.