Nevada has received federal approval for its plan to distribute three additional rounds of emergency food benefits for nearly 400,000 children in the state starting Sept. 17.
“USDA reviews these plans to ensure there is an effective process for getting the right benefits to all eligible children,” said Julie Yee, a spokeswoman for the United States Department of Agriculture who’s responsible for approving the state’s plan.
Eligible children in school and child care will receive additional temporary emergency nutrition benefits through the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
The emergency food benefits, called P-EBT (for Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer), will be distributed to children who would have received free or reduced price meals at their schools or child care facilities through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), if not for the closure or reduced hours of their schools for at least five consecutive days.
“In order to not burden retailers and to meet the USDA’s requirements, P-EBT benefits will be issued in three separate issuances,” said Julie Balderson Knight, a spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Welfare and Supportive Services. “Each issuance will be staggered across ten days. Which means, not all children will receive their P-EBT benefits at the same time.”
The first set of additional benefits will go out between September 14-23, the second set of benefits will go out October 14-23, and the third set will go out November 14-23.
Children who received SNAP, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits from October 2020 through June 2021, automatically qualify and funds will be directly deposited on their families EBT card.
Children who do not receive SNAP or TANF benefits, but do qualify for free or reduced school meals and who have attended an eligible school or day care, will receive a P-EBT card beginning in September 2021.
“For P-EBT only children, the benefit will be placed on a P-EBT card issued in the child’s name and sent to the address on file in the school registration system such as Infinite Campus, for example,” Balderson Knight said.
No application is required for the P-EBT cards, said Balderson Knight, as local school districts will give any information needed for the card directly to the Nevada Department of Agriculture.
The maximum benefit amount will be $136.40 per month, per child, if the school was conducting full-time distance learning. For schools that were conducting hybrid distance and in-person learning, the benefit amount will depend on how many days the school offered distance learning only, and the rate is $6.82 per day of distance-only learning.
Nevada estimates that in total about $523.4 million in food benefits were provided to school children and children in child care who missed school due to closures and reductions in attendance from August 2020 through June 2021.
The nutrition benefits will likely help many families with children avoid food insecurity.
Recent data have shown a sharp increase in the number of families with children reporting difficulties affording adequate food and other basic needs, which have remained high throughout the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic levels.
In Nevada from June to July about 143,000 households with children — or 14 percent of households— reported that children weren’t eating enough because the households couldn’t afford enough groceries, according to data analyzed by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
And the trend is expected to continue.
Nevada households facing food insecurity are on track to remain above pre-pandemic levels through 2021, according to a report from Feeding America.
The report shows in Southern Nevada, one out of four children live in food-insecure households. That’s down from one out of three in 2020. Pre-pandemic an estimated 17.5 percent, or one in six children were living in food-insecure households.
Nationally, about 1 in 7 adults with children reported that their household sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the last seven days, according to Household Pulse Survey data collected between June 23 and July 5.
Fourteen percent of households with children were likely to report food insecurity, compared to 7 % of households without children, according to CBPP.
Additionally, up to 14% of adults with children reported that their children lacked sufficient food in the last seven days from June to July, according to data from the survey.
The Household Pulse Survey is designed to measure adult well-being, making it difficult to give precise numbers on children’s circumstances. However, an analysis of more detailed data from the survey suggests that between 5 and 9 million children live in households where adults reported insufficient food for their children because of cost, according to CBPP.
Children are also facing multiple economic burdens that contribute to additional food insecurity.
For example, 1 in 4 children living in rental housing also live in households that didn’t have enough to eat, according to June data. Nationally, one in 3 children live in rental housing where their family isn’t getting enough to eat or isn’t caught up on rent.
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