Georgia households are no longer eligible for Pandemic-EBT benefits that boosted the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps. The expanded program has provided families “hundreds” of “millions” of dollars of food “more” than “in recent years.” The resulting loss adds to the concerns of Georgia food banks, which continue to try to plug increased demand as a result of the pandemic. Community food banks are often It is the last resort for families facing hunger.
Georgia program that recently introduced enhanced federal benefits to Approximately 770,000 Georgian It ends after the state rejects an application that would have covered summer vacation and payments for the next school year.
The Georgia Department of Human Services announced in early May that SNAP recipients will begin receiving their regular monthly benefits beginning June 1.
During the 2019-2020 “School” year, the State provided more than $290 million in extended benefits to 1.1 million eligible children for free or “at a reduced price” to the “School”.
It expires at the start of the summer holidays when the USDA reported that grocery prices are 10.8% higher than a year ago, while the cost of gas has risen in recent weeks, adding to the financial strain on many families.
“It is well-documented that food insecurity and hardships during the summer increase for low-income families with children, those who used to receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year,” said Poonam Gupta Research Analyst. With the nonprofit research organization Urban Institute, which released a report on Program operations.
The program that allowed families to use discount cards to buy food was launched in 2020 at a time when many schools were not teaching in the classroom followed by a mixture of virtual learning and in-person learning. the past two years, Volunteers got up To fill the void left by fewer school meal options.
The end of the program could mean a loss of $120 million in SNAP “benefits” to families, according to Georgia, Budget, Politics, and The Institute.
While many Georgians have returned to their normal routines before the pandemic, many black families and low-income families are still suffering from the economic downturn. Food Assistance Program is also more widely used in rural communities, such as areas of Georgia with some Highest rates of food insecurity In the country, wrote Yves Finch Floyd, senior economic justice policy analyst at the GBPI.
“Georgia is emerging from the economic downturn of the pandemic, but the recovery is uneven and the inequality that existed before the pandemic persists,” Finch Written in Analysis May 18. “Policymakers should use temporary stimulus dollars as a stepping stone to promoting racial equality and should consider how to use state and federal resources to achieve a vision of a Georgia where black, brown, white, urban and rural populations have long had a foundation for economic opportunity.”
Kemp spokeswoman Katie Baird encouraged Georgians dealing with food insecurity to seek alternatives, including the government’s student summer meal program and regional food banks, to supplement the regular benefits offered under SNAP.
While the benefits of the pandemic SNAP program have run out, Kemp recently announced federal grants to several food banks to combat food insecurity. This includes $29.5 million for the Atlanta Community Food Bank and a total of $8.3 million for America’s Second Harvest for Coastal Georgia and the Georgia Mountain Food Bank. ?
In addition, the governor has instituted a government program to address the shortage of fresh produce in regional food banks.
“In Georgia, we were the first to safely and appropriately reopen our economy,” Bird said in a statement. We have protected lives and livelihoods, and now, our country is booming at a faster rate than any other. Our unemployment rate is at an all-time low, and more Georgians are working than ever before.
“Beginning in June, every SNAP household in Georgia will receive benefits based on the usual factors in determining eligibility, including family size, income, and deductions,” Beard said.
There was unanimous state participation when the FB was first created in 2020 as part of US bailout act.
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But there have been some bureaucratic problems along the way, resulting in states like Georgia allocating their funding retroactively last year since states did not initially get federal approval.
“One of the big problems with P-EBT is that the guidance is coming too late from the USDA and[Food and Nutrition Service]that says they don’t have enough time to put a plan together in time and get the benefits,” Gupta said.
Planning for an additional pandemic while also dealing with other assistance programs has become a heavy burden over the past year, leaving many state SNAP officials working overwhelmed. ?
Meanwhile, with students returning to classroom environments mostly, school officials have been tasked with collecting data, such as whether a student has missed school due to quarantine, or other factors, and there has been no central database to keep track of new information, according to Gupta.
However, it was the last round of applications Certified for 30 countriesincluding Georgia’s neighbors.
Georgia food banks in 2021 distributed 205 million pounds of produce and other groceries as some needs dwindled slowly from the peak of the pandemic in 2020 but were still 30% higher than pre-pandemic levels, according to the Georgia Food Bank Association.
The drop in benefits comes at a difficult time for many Georgians in need as well as food banks, Georgia Food Banks spokeswoman Kali Rowan said.
“As a network, we are concerned but remain vigilant as we enter the height of the summer months when many children do not receive meals at school and instead eat from their families’ pantry more often,” she said. “With the support of the communities and our federal and state partners, our food banks will continue to work together across the state to meet the need to the fullest extent possible, despite the obstacles.”
Summer School Meal Programs
The program ends while most school districts across the state begin summer meal programs, with some support from other federal grant programs.
For example, the Marietta City School District will offer free meals to anyone under 18 through July 22. Meals are served at 37 locations across the city while some places also offer delivery services for five days of breakfast and lunch.
Lynette Dodson, director of school nutrition for the Georgia Department of Education, said the flexibility of school meal programs that had already emerged at the start of the pandemic during school closures had been very beneficial to students across the state.
The upcoming school year also marks the end of the federal waiver program that allowed Georgia school systems to offer free lunches to all students regardless of family income level.
Before the pandemic, about 60%, just over a million students at Georgia public school were eligible for free and reduced price meals.
Dodson said she was impressed by the commitment of local school districts and school feeding programs since the start of the pandemic.
“I believe we can continue to meet the needs of Georgia students and I feel confident even with the transformations that will occur in the coming school year,” she said. “I know that our local programs are very committed to continuing to provide school meals, and of course we are committed to supporting them in that.”
Kemp faces political criticism
While kemp easily He won the Republican primary on May 24 As for the conservative, he’s facing criticism for letting the emergency nutritional benefits run out.
Former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, the Democratic Party’s candidate for governor, publicly attacked her opponent last November.
“Recently, this is the governor who decided, in the midst of rising food costs and baby milk shortages, to cut $120 million in subsidies for Georgia working families who need help with food,” Abrams said at a news conference.
“This will hurt Georgians across the board, especially the Georgian and rural Georgians who are in dire need of support, because although the pandemic may have been declared over, it is not over yet for the millions of Georgians who deserve his help, Not helping him. “Contempt,” she said.
U.S. Representative Lucy McBath, a Gwinnett County Democrat, wrote to Kemp in March urging his administration to end the 2021-2022 school year order to avoid jeopardizing “children’s access” to “food” during the summer.
“During the summer months, children are more vulnerable to food insecurity because out-of-session schools and summer meal programs reach only a small percentage of children,” MacBath She wrote on her congressional handout to Kemp on March 3.
Jill Nolin, deputy registry editor in Georgia, contributed to this report.
what do you know:
The Pandemic-EBT Benefits Program will not be available starting Wednesday, June 1. Extended benefits provide extra cash for groceries during the school year and summer months.
For more information about the benefits of SNAP, visit https://dfcs.georgia.gov/snap-food-stampsAnd the portal.georgia.gov Or call 877-423-4746