Dr. Boozman's Check-up
Arkansas children struggling with hunger during this public health crisis will be getting additional support now that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved Arkansas’s operational plan for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program.
Created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the program provides assistance to families of children eligible for free or reduced-price school meals who have been unable to benefit from these programs while closures are in place.
Over 300,000 children in Arkansas are eligible for free and reduced-priced breakfast and lunch during the academic year. With schools closed, the pressure on parents who rely on this program has intensified. Many of these families were already struggling to make ends meet before the economic shutdown, and unfortunately, find themselves facing even more difficult financial hardships as a result.
The Pandemic EBT program will help relieve some of that stress by providing qualifying families with assistance to account for the free or reduced-price meals that their children would have received on campus.
Unfortunately, food insecurity issues facing Arkansas children won’t disappear once the coronavirus crisis is behind us. The challenge arises every summer. When the school year ends, it takes with it the reliable prospect for a healthy breakfast and lunch for kids who participate in the program.
That’s why I’m leading a bipartisan charge to make federal child nutrition programs more efficient, flexible and better equipped to reach Arkansas children in need during the summer months.