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End to Summer EBT Could Mean Hunger for Some OR Kids

Last year, 70,000 kids in Oregon benefited from the Summer EBT program. (Oregon Food Bank)
Last year, 70,000 kids in Oregon benefited from the Summer EBT program. (Oregon Food Bank)
June 21, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. – One in five Oregon children is food insecure, and that insecurity skyrockets during the summer without access to nutritious meals at school. Summer hunger could be worse this year because of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's decision to end the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer pilot program in the state.

The program provides families about $30 a month per child while school is out. Jeff Kleen, public policy advocate with Oregon Food Bank, says Oregon has been a Summer EBT pilot state for the past seven years and last year, dispersed about $7.5 million in funds.

He says they'll face bigger barriers to food without the program.

"It was very disappointing considering that the Oregon Department of Human Services had run such a successful program for so many years,” says Kleen. “And it does mean that, compared to last year, 70,000 kids will be without those benefits to help them through the summer."

About 40% of Oregon kids are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.

Families do have other options this summer. They can find the nearest USDA's Summer Food Service Program site at '' or search Oregon Food Bank's "food finder" on its website.

Katie Kenton, programs manager at Oregon Food Bank, says there are 39 school pantries across the state that operate throughout the year. Last year, more than 6,000 kids were reached through this pantry network.

Kenton says schools provide a familiar space for families.

"We really want those spaces to be spaces where they can connect with each other and connect with the folks at their school, and feel empowered to be a part of a community," says Kenton.

But even with Oregon Food Bank's network of pantries, Kleen says it's important to bring back the Summer EBT program. He says it's included in a package of child nutrition programs that are reauthorized every five years and were last approved in 2015.

"We urge Congress to make it permanent, make it nationwide and quickly reinstate states like Oregon that have run the program so successfully during the pilot phase,” says Kleen.

Disclosure: Oregon Food Bank contributes to our fund for reporting on Hunger/Food/Nutrition. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR