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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #21-44
June 2, 2021
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces New Statewide Benefit Program to Help Feed Children Amid Child Care Closures

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved California’s plan to launch a new food assistance program for young children up to age six whose access to healthy meals has been impacted due to the pandemic. The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and the California Department of Education (CDE) will partner to issue Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits to eligible young children.

“The pandemic has placed additional strain on many families that were already struggling to provide healthy meals for their kids,” said Thurmond. “This program provides critical assistance so that our low-income young children can get the nutritious foods at home they need to thrive.”

At the onset of the pandemic, nearly half of the state’s child care providers and programs projected that their operations may close due to the pandemic. This limited access to healthy meals for young children.

To help get additional and much-needed nutrition to families, the USDA authorized states to implement P-EBT for young children. It is estimated that there are 1 million young children in California who may be eligible for P-EBT.

Children age zero to six may be eligible to receive P-EBT if they also received CalFresh food benefits for at least one month between October 1, 2020, through May 31, 2021, and the child’s home address is in the area of a closed school or a school operating with reduced attendance or hours. No action is needed from families, and children will be automatically identified and issued benefits. The state will begin issuing P-EBT cards to children who received CalFresh from October to January in early July. Children who received CalFresh from February to May will receive their P-EBT card later in the year.

P-EBT will also be available for school-aged children. California’s P-EBT plan for school-aged children has not yet been approved by USDA; information and details will be shared when available.

Read more in the USDA's approval letter External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) for the program.

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

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