Nearly 300,000 OR kids await approval of summer food benefits

By Eric Tegethoff

Oregon lawmakers have two weeks left in the session to approve funding for the Summer EBT program that helps feed children when school's out. (Lindsay Trapnell/Oregon Food Bank)
Oregon lawmakers have two weeks left in the session to approve funding for the
Summer EBT program that helps feed children when school’s out.
(Lindsay Trapnell/Oregon Food Bank)

A program that would provide food benefits to kids during the summer still needs funding approval from the Oregon Legislature.

The state has already approved the Summer EBT program, but needs to agree to pay for half the administrative costs in order to get access to federal funds.

It would help the families of nearly 300,000 kids receive about $40 for food each month over the summer.

Charlie Krouse, a community organizer with Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, said child hunger spikes during the summer months.

“When they’re fed throughout the school year and they have access to meals throughout the school year, it’s only fair that they have access to food throughout the summer,” said Krouse. “Their income level doesn’t drastically change in the summer – they still need access to support, and access to food.”

Krouse said there have been bipartisan calls to fund the program. The state would get access to about $35 million a year from the federal government for benefits.

The legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on March 10.

Matt Newell-Ching, senior policy manager with Oregon Food Bank, said Summer EBT benefits would be especially helpful for families in rural areas.

“While we love and are big proponents of summer meal sites, we also know that a lot of them are inaccessible,” said Newell-Ching. “And so, this new program was meant specifically to address gaps like that.”

Newell-Ching said everything else is in place – they just need the final piece from lawmakers.

“Ensuring that Oregon contributes its share of the administrative funding makes this all happen and builds on that groundwork,” said Newell-Ching. “And so, basically we’re asking legislators to do the right thing for 294,000 kids, make sure that that funding is there, so we can get this across the finish line and kids can get the support during the summer.”

Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He’s also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.

This article was published on February 26, 2024 at Public News Service.

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