Merkley, Wyden Announce Over 350,000 Children in Oregon Will Receive Critical Food Assistance

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced that over 350,000 children in Oregon will receive critical food assistance through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program in order to help fill the meal gap created by school closures.

Even before the coronavirus crisis hit, over half a million people, including one in five children, in Oregon struggled with food insecurity.

“Every child in Oregon—regardless of the color of their skin, the town they live in, or where their parents work—deserves to go to bed with a full belly,” said Merkley. “Unfortunately, we have more work ahead of us to live up to that principle. I’m grateful that this funding will help bring us a step closer, and will keep fighting for the funding and resources we need to end hunger in Oregon once and for all.”

“The year-round fight against hunger for young Oregonians got even tougher with COVID-19 requiring schools to close to protect public health,” Wyden said. “I am gratified these federal funds will help feed students across our state during this crisis, and I will keep battling to provide food security for Oregonians of all ages.”

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act created the P-EBT program to provide nutrition assistance to families whose schools closed in response to COVID-19. P-EBT provides households and EBT card with the value of the free school breakfast and lunch reimbursement rates for the days the schools are closed. Schools must close for at least five consecutive days in order for families to receive a P-EBT Card. Oregon submitted a state plan for operating P-EBT which was approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The disbursal announcement follows Senator Merkley’s work as the top Democrat on the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the USDA to require the agency to reinstate the Summer EBT program in Oregon for the next three years. In addition, Senator Merkley led a group of 22 lawmakers—including Senator Wyden—in urging Senate Leadership to strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, in upcoming coronavirus relief legislation.