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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

USDA approves pandemic-era school food program for PR this summer


The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer food program is administered on the island by the Family Socioeconomic Development Administration. Originally, the program only applied to recipients of SNAP, to which Puerto Rico does not have access.

By The Star Staff


Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón announced Wednesday that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the plan submitted by Puerto Rico to administer the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) food program for school children during the summer.


The resident commissioner secured the inclusion of Puerto Rico in the program, which is available in states and jurisdictions that offer food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). She said in a press release that the inclusion of language in the draft Continuing Resolution of the House of Representatives of September 2020 was achieved, which allowed Puerto Rico to be included, benefiting about 330,73 students and 73,000 children.


The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administers the program at the federal level. Locally, the program is administered by the Family Socioeconomic Development Administration. Beneficiaries receive the money through the EBT system, the same card system used by the Department of Family Affairs to administer monthly benefits for the Nutrition Assistance Program program, better known on the island by its Spanish acronym PAN.


The P-EBT was created to provide financial assistance to students enrolled in school food programs who were affected by the closures or reduction of school hours due to the pandemic. It is a provision of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act as amended by the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2021 and the Other Extensions Act, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act.


Originally, it only applied to recipients of SNAP, a program to which Puerto Rico does not have access.

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