Pritzker expands pandemic food aid for kids: ‘One step closer to ending hunger for those in need in Illinois’

Illinois’ pandemic food assistance program helped feed roughly 764,000 children during the 2019-20 school year. The expanded program is expected to help the state reach roughly 200,000 more eligible children.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker at George Washington Middle School in Springfield on Tuesday.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces the expansion of a monthly food benefits program that will help approximately one million children across Illinois during a news conference at George Washington Middle School in Springfield on Tuesday.

Justin L. Fowler /The State Journal-Register via AP

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday announced the expansion of a monthly benefits program that will bring the total number of Illinois children provided the federally funded food to nearly one million.

The additional food assistance will come through the state’s Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, or P-EBT, support, which is a temporary assistance program operating during the pandemic.

Pritzker said the expanded program moves the state “one step closer to ending hunger for those in need in Illinois.”

“What this really does is gives more nutrition, more options, to many families — most families — who already are receiving free or reduced lunch, and to 200,000 more kids who otherwise wouldn’t,” Pritzker said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, right, announces the expansion of the monthly food benefits program Tuesday.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, right, is flanked by, from left, state Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, George Washington Middle School Principal Vincent Turner and District 186 Supt. Jennifer Gill as he announces the expansion of the monthly food benefits program Tuesday.

Justin L. Fowler /The State Journal-Register via AP

Illinois’ pandemic food assistance program helped feed roughly 764,000 children during the 2019-20 school year. The expanded program is expected to help the state reach roughly 200,000 more eligible children.

Families will receive $6.82 for each day their child did not have access to school meals, a 19% increase over the $5.70 daily benefit during the 2019-2020 school year.

Children who would have received a free or reduced-price meal had their school not been closed, or operating remotely, for at least five days are eligible for the benefits.

The Illinois Human Services Department is working with the Illinois State Board of Education to determine who is eligible, and local schools will let individual families know that the assistance is headed their way — families will receive benefits cards starting next month, Pritzker said.

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