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April 30, 2020

Maryland Congressional Delegation Announces New COVID-19 Emergency Nutrition Assistance For Students Missing Free or Reduced-Price Lunches at School

Credit: The Bay Net | Congressman Steny Hoyer

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) and the full Maryland Congressional Delegation, including Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, Andy Harris, M.D., Anthony G. Brown, Jamie B. Raskin, and David Trone, yesterday announced approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) of Maryland’s plan to provide new Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) assistance to all Maryland children who would receive free or reduced-price lunches if not for school closures. The Maryland Department of Human Services estimates that approximately 427,000 children will benefit from the program for a combined value of over $49 million in estimated assistance. Maryland is one of 12 states whose plans have already been approved.


“Maryland students have lost primary access to healthy and nutritious food provided by their schools at the same time as food insecurity has spiked as a result of the pandemic,” said the delegation. “The state plan approved today will allow families to directly purchase food to feed their children, supplementing the free emergency meals being distributed by Maryland public schools. As a delegation, we are committed to working together to ensure that this and other forms of relief created through the Families First Coronavirus Response and CARES Acts make their way to Maryland families as swiftly as possible.”


This funding comes as a result of bills passed by Congress to address the pandemic. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided $8.8 billion in additional funding for Child Nutrition Programs in order to ensure children receive meals while school is not in session. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act created temporary new authority and broad flexibility for the USDA and states to adapt the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to respond to the current public health emergency.


Since the temporary school closures began on March 16th, Maryland schools and agencies have been providing free emergency meals to children 18 years and younger. Emergency meals are made available as part of the federal Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which provides reimbursements to sponsors for meals served in the summer months as well as during times of emergency school closures. As of April 25th, Maryland local school systems have served more than 6.4 million meals across 698 meal sites. Locations of Maryland Meals Sites in your community can be found here.


Like regular SNAP benefits, P-EBT benefits will be issued via EBT card to households of children who would have received free or reduced price meals under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act if not for school closures. Monthly assistance will be calculated based on the daily rate of $5.70 per child for each day that the child’s school was closed in a particular month.


In addition to yesterday’s announcement, last week, USDA approved Maryland’s request to issue SNAP emergency allotments to all current SNAP households for the months of April and May 2020. All current SNAP households will receive the maximum allotted SNAP benefit according to the household size regardless of income. For more information about how Maryland SNAP is continuing to serve residents at this time and to apply for assistance, please reference the Maryland Department of Human Services’ website.