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Summer EBT Program expands to support 25,000 students in state

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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The Department of Health and Social Services Summer EBT Program for children will expand this year to serve 25,000 students across the state as a way to support families and ensure their children have dependable access to food during the summer.

The Summer EBT Program helps families buy healthy food daring the summer for children who receive free or reduced-price meals at school.

The food benefits are loaded on an electronic benefits transfer card for use during summer when meals through the school are not available.

This is the fourth year Delaware has been awarded a federal grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to operate the program. This year's grant is for $2.1 million.

Collaborating with the Delaware Department of Education, this initiative will involve students in school districts across the state in prekindergarten through 12th grade

In Delaware, more than 76,000 children rely on school nutrition programs as their primary source of healthy meals. About 14.8 percent of Delaware's children are classified as food insecure, which means they don't always know where they will find their next meal. These problems are intensified when schools let out for the summer.

Delaware joins many other states in participating in this initiative.

"Hunger doesn't stop when school lets out in the summer, and this pilot program will help bridge the gap that children often face in getting healthy food in their diet over break," said Sen. Tom Carper. "Good nutrition throughout the summer will help prepare a child for school to begin again come fall, and I'm proud Delaware was chosen once again for this program."

"Access to good nutrition is a critical part of a child's educational and physical development," Sen. Chris Coons said. "I am pleased the Summer EBT Program has continued to expand and will help even more children receive the nutrients they need during the summer months. I thank the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and Delaware Department of Education and the support of the USDA for their continued work to ensure that all children across our state are able to live a happy and healthy life."

"I'm very happy that Delaware was once again chosen for the Summer EBT Program. It fills a critical need for our children," Congressman John Carney said.

"Schools have really stepped up to ensure their students eat a balanced, healthy diet. But, when schools break for the summer, that need doesn't go away. It helps them form good lifelong habits, and prepares them to return to school in the fall ready to learn." USDA studies have found that insufficient nutrition may hinder the ability of children to function normally. Potential problems include: increased risk for chronic health conditions such as anemia and asthma; increased risk for being hospitalized; more frequent instances of oral health problems; poorer physical quality of life; greater risk of truancy and school tardiness during the school year; or such behavior problems as fighting, hyperactivity, aggression, anxiety, mood swings and bullying.

For more information, go to dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dss/index.html, or contact Ruth Campbell with the Division of Social Services at 302-424-7287.



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Original Publication Date: July 12, 2016



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