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Local News

Summer EBT won’t go out until September

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Jeniffer Solis, Nevada Current
May 28, 2024

Parents in Nevada will have to wait until September to receive benefits from a popular free food program designed to cover kids during summer vacation.

Earlier this year, Nevada signed up for the first new federally funded nutrition program in decades, which established a permanent summer nutrition assistance program for children out of school for the summer.

The new federal nutrition program, known as Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (SEBT), will provide families with $40 in food benefits per eligible child, per month, for the three month summer period. 

But those summer benefits won’t make it to Nevada households until September, according to the Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services, which runs the program.

State health officials said the program was delayed until September, because the agency has not yet secured the state funding needed to run the program. However, the Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services said they are confident the $6 million needed to cover the program’s administrative costs will be approved by lawmakers during the Interim Finance Committee in June. 

“We just need to get our funding approved first,” said Kristle Muessle, a public information officer for the Nevada Division of Welfare and Support Services. “Once we have that, we’ll be able to get the system updates going, and get those contracts going.”

Although the program is largely funded by the federal government, states need to pay half the cost of administering the program.

Payments will be distributed in one lump sum to eligible households with children from Pre-K through the 12th grade. State health officials estimate that 350,000 children in Nevada will be eligible for the summer food benefits program.

The first round of summer benefits starting in September will automatically be distributed to children living in households already participating in other income-based federal assistance programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or Nevada Medicaid.

Households with children identified by the Nevada Department of Education (NDE) as eligible for the free and reduced lunch program will also automatically receive benefits in the first round of payments in September.

Those benefits will be deposited on existing SNAP or TANF cards as part of a household’s monthly benefits. State officials noted that not all children will receive their benefits at the same time.

For families who do not receive SNAP or TANF benefits, pre-loaded SEBT cards will be sent by mail starting in mid-September. SEBT cards will be mailed to the last known address the parent or guardian provided when enrolling their child in school. 

Parents who have recently moved will need to contact the school their child is currently enrolled in, prior to June 10, 2024, and provide them with a current address or mailing address to ensure they receive the summer food benefits when they are finally available in September, warned the Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services.

Children in households that are not already participating in other income-based federal assistance programs will receive their summer benefits at a later date. However, that later date has not been determined yet, according to the Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services.

Nevada also has several nutrition food programs for families who need assistance over the summer.  The Clark County School District (CCSD) announced it will serve breakfast and lunch meals to all students through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) at several locations throughout southern Nevada. A list of locations can be found here.

Summer meals served by CCSD schools will be available from May 21 to June 14, before returning from June 17 to July 17. Due to the terms of the CCSD Summer Food Service Program, all meals provided by CCSD must be consumed on-site. 

The Food Bank of Northern Nevada’s also offers free breakfast and lunch meals  to children 2-18 years old throughout summer break. A list of locations can be found here. 

The Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (SEBT) is a much needed boost for states that have seen food insecurity rise in recent years. 

Earlier this month, data released by Three Square Food Bank revealed that food insecurity in Clark, Nye, Esmerelda and Lincoln counties rose from 12% in 2022 to 14.7% in 2023. An estimated 14.6% of Clark County residents were food insecure, up from 12% the previous year. 

The highest rates are among Esmeralda and Nye counties, at 18.4% and 17.3% respectively. Both counties had a 13.9% rate the previous year.

The report also found that rates among children spiked from 17.8% in 2023 to 22%. Roughly one in five children, about 115,000 children, live in food-insecure households.

While Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo vetoed a bill in 2023 that would have provided universal free lunch for K-12 students, the SEBT program will provide much needed additional funding for childhood nutrition programs.

Last month, Democratic lawmakers also criticized Lombardo for pressuring the legislature to fund the states administrative costs related to the SEBT program from an emergency contingency account, rather than reallocating unspent American Rescue Plan Act money.

Using the emergency contingency fund for the EBT programs’ $6 million administrative needs would leave the fund with an $11 million balance–considered too low by lawmakers.

During the legislative session, $9 million in ARPA funding was set aside for the universal free lunch program, which was ultimately left unspent after Lombardo vetoed the free school lunch bill. 

Lawmakers said they intended to use part of the $9 million in unspent ARPA funds to cover the $6 million needed for administrative costs related to the SEBT program.

Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: info@nevadacurrent.com. Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Nevada Current under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.