Merkley Announces Free Summer Lunches for Low Income Students Will Restart

  On Friday, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) announced a program that feeds children over summer school breaks will be renewed for 2020. The program had been cancelled last year.  

The oddly named Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer program helps families who qualify for free and reduced school lunches.   

“Every child in Oregon—regardless of the color of their skin, the town they live in, or where their parents work—deserves nutritious meals all year long. But when schools close for the summer, tens of thousands of families struggle to keep food on the table for their kids,” said Merkley. “I fought to push the USDA to reverse course on their senseless limits to this program. I’m glad to be able to announce today that Oregon’s children in need will once again have access to nutritious meals through this program next summer.”  

The US Department of Agriculture cut funding for the program last year, leading many families to rely more on local food banks or summer lunch programs through schools.   

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR OREGON: The Summer EBT program had previously helped feed more than 70,000 children in Oregon and had been in place since 2011, providing $30 per child per month. Per the USDA, 20% of children in Oregon experience food insecurity and may not know where their next meal will come from, and 27 out of 36 counties in the state had families participating.  

Merkley, the ranking Democrat on the Committee on Appropriations which oversees the USDA, stated that funding for Oregon had been secured for the next 3 years.  

By Kevin Davenport-Rackham