You are reading

$375 in Food Benefits Per Child Are Coming to All NYC Public School Families

The Food Bazaar in Brownsville, Brooklyn, Jan. 30. 2020. Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

This article was originally published by Chalkbeat New York on June 3
By Marcela Rodrigues-Sherley

All New York City public school families regardless of income will receive $375 per child in food benefits to help cover the costs of meals from last summer during the pandemic —whether they attended summer school or not.

The state began the rollout this month, with the retroactive benefit being distributed to students enrolled as of June 2021.

The benefit comes from the Coronavirus Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer or P-EBT, a federally created program covering meal expenses for students who typically received free meals when in school but were learning remotely due to the pandemic. This is the third round of food benefits for public school families across the state since the pandemic began in March 2020, with the state sending more than $3.4 billion to families since then, officials said.

Because New York City is a universal free lunch district, all public-school students are eligible to receive P-EBT regardless of their household income. Families are also eligible regardless of immigration status.

The money will be automatically loaded on P-EBT cards that eligible families received in the mail in 2020 or 2021. (Families should keep their cards after the money is used because new iterations of the program might still be approved.)

The benefits can be used to purchase eligible food items in stores that accept them and are available for at least 274 days from the date they were issued.

Some eligible students have yet to receive benefits for logistical reasons, such having an incorrect address on file or incomplete information from a school, according to a spokesperson from the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), which oversees the disbursements.

“It’s been hugely important to help families stay afloat during this crisis,” said Liz Accles of Community Food Advocates, a New York-based nonprofit focused on food access. “Most New York City public school students are in families who are struggling to make ends meet. And there are many more that are right above the federal eligibility for free or reduced price meals, given the cost of living in New York City.”

According to the city’s education department, 73% of public school students are economically disadvantaged.

“School meals are one of the biggest, most far-reaching anti-hunger programs. If kids access two meals a day, that’s 40 meals a month for each child in the household,” Accles said.

A recent survey of more than 600 families conducted by Change Research and No Kid Hungry found that 58% of adults with children in New York City schools have struggled to eat healthy and nutritious food over the past 12 months. The same survey found that 43% worried a member of their household would not have enough food to eat. More than a third of respondents had to skip a meal.

New York City schools will provide free meals this summer to anyone ages 18 and under at select campuses starting on June 28. But historically, families in need have not fully taken advantage of the program. Research has shown that food insecurity is higher during the summer months, when many children do not receive their regular free meals at school.

“We refer to summer as the hungriest time of the year,” said Rachel Sabella, of No Kid Hungry New York, the New York division of a national campaign that aims to solve hunger in the United States. “For many families, they may not have a summer meals site close to them, where they can access those free meals. Some food pantries and soup kitchens that are normally open in the summer rely on volunteers. If the volunteers are not available, their services are not available.”

Sabella said that P-EBT is also valuable to families because they’re able to go buy groceries in convenient locations, rather than travel to a free meal site.

There are legislative efforts to extend P-EBT and to pass a summer food benefit program nationwide. The summer EBT proposal was part of President Joe Biden’s American Families plan in 2021. But as of now, the summer program is still in its pilot version, serving a limited number of states.

“Summer EBT would be pretty much exactly what pandemic EBT is, it would be available in the summer months when school is closed for families that had been receiving free and reduced price meals as another way to get them those grocery benefits,” Sabella said.

The P-EBT benefit remains in effect while COVID-19 is a public health emergency, but each state must be approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) . The public health emergency was extended until mid-July.

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

Creep sought for performing ‘lewd act’ in front on M train rider in Ridgewood last month: NYPD

Police from the 104th Precinct and Transit District 33 are looking for a suspect in a public lewdness investigation for an incident on an M train at the Seneca Avenue station last month.

A 31-year-old woman was on board a Queens-bound M train on Sunday, Jan. 22, at around 9:20 p.m., when she was approached by the unknown man who proceeded to perform a lewd act in front of her, according to an NYPD spokesman, who could not provide any details about what the lewd act was.

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

Raga sworn in as first-ever Filipino American elected to the state Legislature

More than 300 community members attended the historic inauguration of Assemblyman Steven Raga as the first Filipino American elected to office in New York state.

Many who attended the swearing-in event at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park wore traditional and cultural attire to the event at the building that once housed the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations from 1946 to 1950 until its current home in Manhattan became available for the world body.

Ridgewood’s 104th Precinct working to ward off illegal motorbikes, abandoned vehicles and more 311 complaints

Illegal parking, blocked driveways and abandoned vehicles are some of the more common issues at almost every community-driven meeting. The Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale communities know all too well that these issues constantly plague their quality of life. 

The 104th Precinct recently shared several posts on Twitter involving the confiscation of illegal motorbikes and the towing of multiple abandoned vehicles. The efforts to thwart these recurring quality-of-life issues increased over the last two months, at the same time Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman, the commanding officer of the 104, took over.

Ridgewood Garden Associates lawsuit claims city DOT failed to negotiate on locations of new Citi Bike stations

Ridgewood Garden Associates Inc., a residential co-op based in Maspeth, is filing a lawsuit against the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) and Lyft for their alleged lack of negotiation on alternative locations for the installation of Citi Bike stations near their property.

According to Ridgewood Garden Associates Inc.’s president of the board of directors, George Mandato, the organization sent a letter to Councilman Robert Holden in December 2022 requesting a discussion about alternative locations and dates for the DOT’s installation of the bike stations. However, they were unable to get the chance to do so.