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NY Parents Getting Help Feeding Kids

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Half of New York City public-school families report reducing the size or frequency of kids' meals. (Trailbomber/Adobe Stock)
Half of New York City public-school families report reducing the size or frequency of kids' meals. (Trailbomber/Adobe Stock)
 By Andrea Sears - Producer, Contact
September 14, 2020

NEW YORK -- New York parents of children who have missed out on free meals at school because of the COVID pandemic are receiving food assistance in the form of electronic benefit transfer cards.

Families receiving SNAP benefits or Medicaid should have already received food assistance added to their EBT or Benefit Identification cards. The P-EBT cards that are being distributed this month are going to the parents of New York kids who are in school districts with universal free lunch or who receive pre-approved reduced-price meals but whose families don't receive those other benefits.

According to Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, that's about 2 million children statewide.

"They will allow people to purchase food at most grocery stores, some farmers' markets. You should get about $400 per kid in school," Berg said.

Qualified parents who have not received the cards by September 15 should call the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance at 833-452-0096.

Berg emphasized the federally funded program applies to middle-income and immigrant families who are suffering the economic impact of the pandemic but may not qualify for SNAP benefits.

"Undocumented children will also be fed by this program, which I think is absolutely vital, because many of their parents are doing the hardest jobs for the lowest wages and undocumented kids often go hungry," he said. "But this will also help working people who are slightly above the SNAP income eligibility limits."

The program was funded by the Family First Act passed by Congress early this year. But unless new legislation is passed soon, it will expire at the end of September.

A recent poll found half of cash-strapped public-school families in New York City report reducing the size or frequency of meals for their kids. Berg said the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic is far from over.

"There is a grave need for this to be extended, and the HEROES Act which passed the House of Representatives includes an extension and expansion of P-EBT," he said.

Leadership in the U.S. Senate has not allowed the HEROES Act to go to the floor for a vote.

Disclosure: Hunger Free America contributes to our fund for reporting on Hunger/Food/Nutrition. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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