Pandemic EBT cards aim to reimburse parents for school lunch costs

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Financial relief is coming for thousands of families who may have trouble getting food for their children. Starting this week the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) said families with kids on free and reduced lunch will start getting Pandemic EBT cards and families already receiving benefits will see an increase.

FSSA said the new cards will serve somewhat as food reimbursement for the parents of about 600,000 children who may not be able to access food at school.

“I think this pandemic has caused a lot of trauma in many different ways for families,” said Michael Howe, CEO of Community Alliance of the Far East Side (CAFE).

Families that already receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will see an increase in their benefits. According to FSSA, parents don’t need to apply for the Pandemic EBT cards.

The Indiana Department of Education identified the families with kids who have free or reduced lunch. Howe said CAFE has been providing services in the community, but are doing much more to meet the ever growing need.

Many food distribution locations have helped, but the need is still apparent.

“Our largest call volume has been for food access,” Howe said.

According to data, since Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb made the executive order to close schools March 13, students will have missed about 56 days of school if you deduct weekend and school breaks.

Breakfast and lunch for one student is just under $6 a day, meaning a family with one child could get more than $300 worth of benefits.

“This addition certainly can help ease a little bit of their concerns about meals or food access but it’s certainly not going to cure all the problems that exist in all the disparities that exist,” said Howe.

The FSSA said the Pandemic EBT cards can be used anywhere SNAP is accepted. Families with existing SNAP benefits will see an increase to their benefits by the end of the month.


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