SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND)- One million children across Illinois will receive additional federally funded food benefits, starting in March, as part of Governor JB Pritzker's effort to end hunger for all Illinoisans.
The additional funds are valued at up to $110 million per month.
The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service and is expected to reach about 200,000 more eligible children this school year compared to last year.
Children and their families will be able to access these funds by using an "EBT Card" that will automatically be mailed to all participating households.
"Today, we move another step closer to ending hunger for all of Illinois with a benefits program that will support approximately 1 million children across our state. Starting next month, eligible families across Illinois can be on the lookout for a benefits card in the mail to provide additional, federally funded food benefits for their children," said Governor JB Pritzker. "I'm excited to announce that we'll be able to serve about 200,000 more children who have previously received this support, each with a larger daily benefit than in the past. My administration is proud to secure more federal funding for Illinois to make this expansion possible."
During the 2019-2020 school year alone, Illinois' P-EBT program provided nearly 764,000 children with more than $259 million worth of nutrition benefits.
Each day a child goes without access to school meals, the family will receive $6.82, which is a 19% increase over the 2019-2020 school year when the daily benefit was $5.70.
"At IDHS, we are committed to ensuring Illinois school children and their families have access to food assistance when they need it and will continue to apply for and maximize any opportunities," said IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou." "We are proud to be one of 16 states to receive the federal approval from the USDA to continue these critical P-EBT benefits that put food on the table for Illinois families and bring in hundreds of millions of federal dollars to Illinois."
"Research shows that children who are hungry are not able to focus and learn," said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. "Schools have served more than 113 million meals to students since the pandemic began, and the P-EBT builds on this care and commitment to ensure all Illinois children have their nutritional needs met. The fact that eligible families do not have to take any action and will receive these benefits automatically is a huge sigh of relief. We are proud to collaborate with other state agencies to make this happen and excited share this good news with our students' families across the state."
Families do not need to apply for this round of P-EBT benefits.
Within the next few weeks, families can expect their EBT cards to be delivered in the mail.
The cards can be used to purchase food items at EBT-authorized retailers, including most major grocery stores in Illinois.