East Texas Food Bank CEO weighs in on expanding federal summer food assistance for schoolchildren


TYLER, Texas (KETK) – In a push by the Biden administration to address food insecurity in the nation, a new summer food program is launching that will provide for more than 30 million low-income children.

The East Texas Food Bank says that this help couldn’t have come at a better time, with COVID-19 putting more of a strain on many households.

The money will come on a card, and parents should start receiving those in the next few weeks. The cards will have the same limits as SNAP benefits. They can only be used for fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy and other foods.

The plan will provide up to 34 million children $6.82 per child for each weekday. That adds up to $375 per child over the summer months. The money will come on a card, and parents should start receiving those in the next few weeks.

“That’ll carry a family along the way,” East Texas Food Bank CEO Dennis Cullinane said. “It’ll take care of a meal or two. For the children at home, to get a home cooked meal. When we deliver those meals to children during the summer there’s a lot of expenses involved with transportation and food prep. We have to do a lot of handling. This is a whole lot more efficient.”

On the local level, the East Texas Food Bank holds regular distributions to give out food to those who need it. There will be a food distribution event from ETFB Tuesday 10 a.m. to noon in Lufkin.

Children could qualify for the new summer benefit if they are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year or if they are under age 6 and live in a SNAP household. Children already on SNAP would get the benefits as a supplement to what they already receive.

This program is only set for 2021, and Congress will need to pass further legislation if they want to make the summer food program permanent.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called the summer benefits a “first-of-its-kind, game-changing intervention to reduce child hunger in the United States.”

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