By: Hannah Walker, Vice President of Political Affairs, FMI
In times of emergency, we realize the true resiliency and effectiveness of an established private-public partnership. Our industry continues to work 24/7 to replenish and restock shelves, while ensuring the cleanliness of stores and the safety of its associates. Amid keeping things moving, the needs of all our customers and partners – including WIC and SNAP shoppers – remain top priority.
With that being said, FMI has actively pursued the extension of P-EBT as it has proven to effectively reach children who would typically receive free or reduced school lunches, but are missing these meals due to their schools being closed or operating with reduced hours because of COVID-19.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, established the P-EBT feeding program to allow families that typically rely on the school lunch program for meals and snacks during the regular school day to receive benefits they can redeem at their locally licensed SNAP grocery store to buy food. P-EBT allows states to add additional benefits to a family's SNAP card and issue new cards to those not participating in SNAP to cover the cost of the missed school meals. Integrating P-EBT into the SNAP system ensures customers can redeem their benefits at their local grocery store, where they already shop, without increased burden for all stakeholders. This process did not require any additional programming or operational changes for SNAP retailers and has worked well in our members' operations.
Today, over a dozen states have been approved for August and September P EBT during the new school year. We commend the House for extending the very successful P-EBT children's feeding program in its bipartisan FY21 continuing resolution stop-gap funding bill. In addition to extending P-EBT authorization, the legislation creates flexibilities to include schools that have adopted hybrid school schedules such as fewer days a week in-person attendance and reduced hours. Furthermore, the bill smartly expands P-EBT to include childcare facilities. These changes will help ensure that no child goes without vital nutrition.
While much has been done to ensure families have access to food, more can always be accomplished. To help in this effort, FMI created a video that retailers can leverage to help families access benefits and navigate the SNAP/P-EBT shopping experience.
We are urging the Senate to move quickly and pass H.R. 8337 – Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 which reauthorizes P-EBT as Americans continue to recover from this uncertain time.