5,300 Children to be Served

The USDA has again awarded grant funding to Missouri to implement Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children (SEBTC) for the summer of 2012. This summer, the funding will provide benefits for approximately 5,300 children in the Saint Louis Public Schools through ARCHS.

The Saint Louis Public School families selected for SEBTC benefits are in the process of being notified and will receive $60 per month per child in June and July, and a pro-rated amount in May and August based upon the school district’s schedule. With 5,300 children expected to receive benefits this summer, St. Louis area stores and farmer’s markets will redeem over $800,000 in SEBTC benefits. The benefits  expire when school resumes in August  because children will have  free and reduced price meals available during school hours.

All households in the demonstration areas with children from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade who receive free and reduced price meals at school were qualified to be considered for SEBTC. Because this was a demonstration project, some families were randomly selected this spring to receive the benefit and others, who were not selected, will participate in surveys. USDA requires the project to be evaluated each year by a national research firm, resulting in a report to Congress .

Using the existing EBT system, this demonstration project is testing the most effective way to provide food to low-income children during the summer when school is not in session and children do not have access to school meals. During the summer of 2011, Missouri successfully tested giving benefits to 2,538 children in the Kansas City, Hickman Mills, and Center School Districts, bringing an additional $386,000 into local EBT authorized stores. In 2012, the project was expanded to St. Louis through ARCHS.

The Missouri project is a collaboration of the Departments of Social Services, Health and Senior Services, Elementary and Secondary Education, ARCHS, the Local Investment Commission (LINC), the Kansas City, Hickman Mills and Center School Food Authorities, and the Saint Louis Public Schools.

This is one of the largest demonstration projects undertaken by USDA.  Lessons learned from Missouri’s project will inform decisions at the federal level about how to best address childhood hunger during the summer months when school meals are not available.

This project is not open to the general public. However, for information about other free summer food programs in the St. Louis area, call 314-657-1695 or visit www.health.mo.gov/sfsp.