TALLAHASSEE, FL — After weeks of pressuring Gov. Ron DeSantis to apply for a one-time pandemic food-stamp program, this week Florida became the last state to apply and get approval for more than a billion dollars in Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) federal funding.
The program was issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in April to aid those children that depend on the school meals distributed during the summer. More than 30 Democratic state lawmakers and 80 advocacy groups urged the governor to apply for the program.
Niki Fried, Florida agriculture commissioner, said it was shameful for the state to take so long to apply.
“I don’t know if it was politically motivated, I don’t know if DCF dropped the ball, and then when we called them out on it, they had to come up with some excuse,” Fried asserted. “But regardless, at the end of the day, the money is coming down to our families across the state.”
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A spokesperson for the governor once said Floridians did not need the program because kids were back in school. The program is aimed at helping an estimated 2.7 million children in Florida. Families with children in poverty will receive an additional $375 in benefits over a 30-day period beginning Nov. 15.
Fried said every penny counts for those who are food insecure.
“$375 may not sound like a lot to some people, but for many Floridians, it will make all the difference in the world,” Fried contended. “Providing money to shop for groceries, so this week’s paychecks can cover rent or car payments.”
Children younger than age six who went to child care and whose families already were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), can also apply for the added benefit.