April 30, 2020

Gillibrand, Schumer Urge USDA To Approve New York State’s Pandemic EBT Program

P-EBT Would Provide Critical Funds to Families Whose Children Usually Rely on Free or Reduced-Price School Meals; New York State Awaits Approval on March 25 Request; Other States’ Programs Have Been Approved

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 25th, 2020, 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.”

“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.”

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. 

Full text of the letter can be found here and below. 

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April 29, 2020

                                                           

The Honorable Sonny Perdue Secretary

The U.S. Department of Agriculture 

1400 Independence Ave., SW 

Washington, DC 20250

                                                           

Dear Secretary Perdue,  

We are writing to request that USDA expeditiously approve New York State’s request for approval to operate Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, also known as Pandemic EBT. New York State has submitted their plan and it was received by USDA on March 25, 2020, but is still pending approval.                                                  

As you know, Pandemic EBT is a new program authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which provides assistance to families of children eligible for free or reduced-price meals dealing with school closures. This assistance is in the form of an EBT card that is provided to households with the value of the free school breakfast and lunch reimbursement rates for days that schools are closed. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, this program would permit New York State to provide benefits similar to SNAP benefits to children who normally receive free or reduced price school meals.                                                           

Currently ten states have been approved to operate a Pandemic EBT program, with the most recent approvals coming on April 24, 2020. With New York State being the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, and school closures beginning in New York City on March 15 and statewide on March 18, it is imperative that New York State’s request be approved so they can start feeding hungry kids immediately.

Over a million children in New York continue to be hungry while this request remains unapproved. We urge you to immediately approve their Pandemic EBT request. Thank you for your careful consideration of this request. 

Sincerely,