The federal government releases long-awaited P-EBT guidance for the spring
Latest guidance from the USDA increases the daily P-EBT benefit to $6.82 (a 16 percent increase) and extends the benefit to all children under the age of six whose households participate in SNAP when school or child care is closed. P-EBT (temporary emergency nutrition benefits for children established during the pandemic) represents one important tool for combatting hunger. Currently, 38 percent of Coloradans are experiencing hunger, which is more than two times the rate who went hungry during the Great Recession.
In addition to increasing the daily benefit and including children under the age of six, the guidance allows state agencies to use simplifying assumptions to identify more students who are eligible for the benefit. When the first round of P-EBT benefits were issued, less than half of the 180,000 eligible students received the benefit due to data sharing challenges. The guidance also provides administrative funding and reimbursement to state agencies who oversee the state level programs.
Photo by Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center
The executive order, signed by President Biden last month, provided state agencies with clarity. Though Congress extended the program last fall, there was confusion as to what that meant for the second round of benefit issuance. In light of the new guidance, states are developing and submitting P-EBT plans for this school year to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for approval. The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) and Colorado Department of Education (CDE) are currently working to develop Colorado’s plan to issue P-EBT benefits again this spring.
We know that hunger has significant impacts on child development and well-being. Research demonstrates that experiencing hunger can alter a child’s health, behavior and academic performance. In fact, children who face hunger are more likely to experience iron deficiency, chronic illness and poorer health status overall throughout their lives.
Among very young children, hunger is linked to delays in cognitive, motor and social-emotional development. When they become adolescents and adults, children who experience hunger may be more likely to deal with depression and suicidal ideation. Therefore, this executive order serves as a huge win for kids as an increased number continue to face hunger in the ongoing pandemic.