Rep. Levin Applauds the Permanent Authorization of the Summer EBT Program
Oceanside, CA – U.S. Representative Mike Levin (CA-49) today released the following statement on establishment of the permanent Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, passed in December.
“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed how serious the child hunger crisis is when kids aren’t being fed at school. Permanent funding of the Summer EBT Program will help fill the void, so every child has the nutrition they need to grow and thrive year-round,” said Rep. Levin. “While I am concerned that this program was funded by rolling back pandemic SNAP benefit expansion, Summer EBT will ensure that eligible families have the benefits they need to put food on the table and replace meals that kids would typically receive at school, building off of programs we know work well. Advocates fighting child hunger support this move because they’ve seen the demand for help from families when school is out and know this is a step in the right direction to make sure our kids aren’t going hungry. I will continue fighting to ensure this program is implemented successfully, and to strengthen the program by raising the benefit amount and expanding the program to all school breaks.”
Rep. Levin has led his colleagues in the fight for a permanent Summer EBT program. In May 2021, Rep. Levin introduced the Stop Child Hunger Act, which would create a permanent, nationwide EBT program for all school closures longer than five consecutive days, including summer and winter school breaks and unanticipated school closures. The House-passed Build Back Better Act included authorization for a Summer EBT program, which initially died in the Senate, but ultimately made it across the finish line in the fiscal year 2023 omnibus package.
Hunger Relief Organizations say:
“San Diego Hunger Coalition is overjoyed at the establishment of a permanent Summer EBT program, which will be an historical turning point in our nation’s ability to address summer hunger. We applaud Congressman Levin’s leadership in championing this critical tool for feeding children when the school meals that so many kids and families rely upon are not available. We saw firsthand how effective Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) was in drastically reducing hunger in San Diego County during the height of the pandemic, and we look forward to supporting the implementation of Summer EBT building upon the best practices and lessons learned with P-EBT,” said San Diego Hunger Coalition President and CEO Anahid Brakke.
"The Summer EBT program included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 will help reduce the summer hunger gap that millions of families experience when they lose access to school meals, and we thank Congressman Levin for his leadership to make this important program permanent and available nationwide," said Luis Guardia, president of the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). "At the same time, we remain concerned that the program was funded in large part by ending the SNAP Emergency Allotments early, which will create a hunger cliff for millions of families as soon as March."
“We are heartened to see Summer EBT included in the omnibus,” said Becky Silva, Director of Government Relations for the California Association of Food Banks. “California Association of Food Banks along with our partners in the West have long led the way in identifying the need to create a permanent, nationwide Summer EBT program that would help to ensure kids' nutrition needs are met all year long. We know that summer months are the hungriest time for children, and we’re grateful to Representative Levin for taking action and championing HR 3519 Stop Child Hunger Act that will provide food aid during the summer as well as during other breaks and unanticipated disasters. No California kid should ever go to bed hungry.”
Approximately 29.6 million students are eligible to receive free or reduced-price school meals each day during the annual school year. School nutrition programs provide critical nourishment to students to support healthy living and improve cognitive function throughout the school day. A lapse in these benefits during the summer months can have a drastic impact on low-income families.
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched a pilot Summer EBT program in select states to help replace school lunch benefits during the summer months. The pilot program has been extremely effective, and the USDA concluded that by providing low-income households with a $30 to $60 benefit per child each month, the most severe type of food insecurity was reduced by one-third, and food insecurity overall was reduced by one-fifth.
The necessity of school nutrition programs became especially pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the introduction of Pandemic EBT – modeled after Summer EBT – has averted severe hunger for many households.
The permanent Summer EBT program will provide $40 per child per month to families who have children eligible for free- or reduced-price school meals with an EBT card during the summer months. Rep. Levin will continue fighting to raise the benefit amount to ensure no child goes hungry during summer break.