The Biden administration will announce on Monday the introduction of a taxpayer-funded summer food program that would feed an estimated 30 million low-income Americans.
“Congress, through the American Rescue Plan, expanded this program to operate during the summer, which I think was just highly responsive to what we need right now,” Stacy Dean, the deputy undersecretary of agriculture for food, nutrition, and consumer services, said in a statement.
“We know that summer hunger is a problem in normal years, but obviously this year, with heightened food hardship as a result of the pandemic, we’re happy to deploy the program this summer,” Dean added.
The plan will give 34 million children approximately $375 each to purchase food for the 10-week period that they are on break from school for the summer.
Children under six who qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch would not only qualify for the program but be enrolled automatically.
Their parents or guardians would get Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, or P-EBT, cards from individual state agencies.
Congress has funded the program for two summers — in 2021 and 2022.
The program costs an estimated $12 billion in taxpayer money, according to agriculture officials.
Agriculture Department officials said the Biden administration sought to make the summer Pandemic-EBT program permanent but added with a caveat it would require congressional approval.
Overall participation in SNAP has remained at 41,834,281 individuals and 21,797,172 households as of January 2021, according to the most recent data provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The number of individuals who got P-EBT in January 2021 was 1,137,982, and 894,082 households got P-EBT benefits, according to the USDA data.