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Lower-Income Families Lose $450 Million in The Summer Meal Scheme in Texas!


CNS News35 states will participate in a $2.5 billion federal nutrition program this summer to help low-income parents buy groceries for their children when free school meals are unavailable. According to the USDA, Texas has 3.8 million eligible children but has not joined this national effort. If so, qualifying families would have received $120 per child in a pre-loaded card for three summer months.

Texas is depriving eligible families of $450 million in federal tax dollars, according to the USDA. Texas Health and Human Services Commission provides a simple explanation for the pass. After the USDA informed HHSC officials of their new Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) program on Dec. 29, the nation’s second-largest state had only six months to implement it, which Tiffany Young, a state agency spokesperson, said was insufficient.

The Texas Education Agency and Texas Department of Agriculture would also participate in the summer program, but HHSC would have to coordinate and distribute preloaded cards to qualifying families. Medicaid coverage unwinding is already difficult. Since April, the agency has removed over 2 million Texans from the program after the federal government lifted continuous coverage rules during the pandemic, forcing those who still qualify to reapply. HHSC believes a new program should be launched now.

Summer EBT administrative costs were only 50% covered by the USDA. The state would pay the remainder. HHSC, TDA, and TEA have been in “active discussions” about agency responsibilities by Summer EBT, Young wrote. The 2019-2020 school year saw the USDA pilot the summer program with Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) in all 50 states.

P-EBT was created for low-income children who received free and reduced-price school meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Summer money would be given to 21 million children in 35 states, five U.S. territories, and four tribes, according to federal estimates. 15 states, including Texas, will not participate. Alabama, like Texas, opted out due to a lack of time to allocate program funds.

School lunch may be the only full meal for over 3 million Texas kids. One in five children in Texas are food insecure, according to Feeding Texas, a nonprofit that supplies food banks. The Texas Department of Agriculture runs the school-year free and reduced meal program. Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said he understands families’ disappointment in Texas’ failure to participate this year.

He said his agency would have helped if participation was chosen. “Everything is so much more expensive,” Miller said of the TDA’s school meals and summer feeding programs. “An extra $40 could have significantly offset that.” Last November, every Texan, and statewide and regional organization wrote to HHSC executive commissioner Cecile Young to support the program.

“Summer EBT is something we have been advocating for for years, because we know how hard it is in a state as spread out as Texas to access enough food, to afford enough food for their kids when school is closed,” Rachel Cooper told The Texas Tribune. Though less comprehensive than Summer EBT, food-insecure children can still get summer food assistance. Miller told the Tribune that the TDA’s Summer Meals Program expansion won’t feed “kids any less”.

Lower-Income Families Lose $450 Million in The Summer Meal Scheme in Texas!

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Free meals are available at state meal sites for children under 18. Find out if your child’s school district offers free summer meals. National organizations like the YMCA and Boys & Girls Club provide summer meal assistance by location. Cooper believes Texas should join Summer EBT in 2025, even though it is still possible to eat well without it. “Our kids need it,” Cooper said. “They deserve it, and we must contribute.”

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