The Biden Administration is making an effort to end food insecurity among children in America, as it has promised $375 to families in need during the summer months.
The program will help get food to more than 30 million kids after the school year ends and during the summer months when food insecurity rises.
Families with children who qualify for free or reduced-priced meals during the school year will be eligible to receive the funds.
“We believe the outcome of this will be a significant decrease in child hunger during the summer months. That will be true during the pandemic and that will be true after the pandemic if we can continue this,” said Matt Newell-Ching, Public Policy Manager at Oregon Food Bank.
Oregon is one of eight states in the country that has “tested” the government’s newest plan through the Summer EBT Program, which has supplied $90 for the summer months in various years over the past decade. According to the Oregon Food Bank, that money helped reduce child hunger in the state by a third.
“We talked to a family who said this allowed me to buy bananas and fruits for my kids in the summer, and so not only is it decreasing hunger, it’s increasing the quality of the food,” said Newell-Ching.
It is not surprising that during the pandemic the need for food assistance has soared after increases in both unemployment and certain grocery items.
According to Feeding America, food insecurity during the pandemic increased from 1 in 7 kids to 1 in 6, and in Oregon, the increase was even more pronounced as it ballooned from 1 in 11 children to 1 in 4.
“Our numbers were probably like 80 [families getting food] per week, 80-90 a week, and then once the pandemic came it was like 200 families per week,” said Kiyauna Williams, manager of the Park Hill Middle School food drive in Portland.
The need was straining for some, like Stephanie Wonsley, a single mother whose 13-year-old daughter will be eligible for the Biden Administration’s newest funds.
“I had to say to my landlord, ‘I’m sorry. I have to get food [rather than pay rent]’ and I’ve done that a couple of times. More than a couple of times [during the pandemic],” she said.