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With deadline Friday, NH has not applied to receive additional EBT funds

A food pantry in Manchester, NH
Gaby Lozada
Families In Transition's Manchester food pantry, Manchester, NH.

Friday is the deadline for New Hampshire to participate in the 2023 federal Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program, which is designed to provide additional funding for food-insecure school children over the summer.

Laura Milliken, executive director of NH Hunger Solutions, said 37,000 children statewide qualify for the benefits. That comes to an extra $120 per child spread over three months.

Despite participating the previous two years, New Hampshire has not yet applied for this summer. Over 40 other states and territories have already joined the program.

Karen Hebert is the director of the Division of Economic Stability in the Department of Health and Human Services. She could not guarantee the state will get its application in by Friday, citing concerns over establishing proper eligibility and distributing the benefits.

“Right now, [we’re] just trying to make sure that this is a program that we will be able to implement,” she said. “And if it is, we will absolutely get the application in.”

Milliken has been advocating for the state to apply for the funding.

“We think that it just doesn't make any sense to leave millions of dollars on the table that could be helping hungry kids,” she said.

Based on a combination of factors like other pandemic-related supports ending and persistent inflation, Milliken said increasing numbers of people are food insecure right now.

“It seems like not the time to turn away federal dollars,” she said.

 Tomatoes at a grocery store
Dan Tuohy
Tomatoes at a grocery store in NH.

Created by Congress in 2020, kids who rely on programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and free and reduced lunch qualify for the program.

SNAP is a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that gives low-income families and
individuals supplemental money for groceries. EBT — electronic benefit transfer — is how SNAP recipients pay for their food. Recipients use an EBT card, which works similarly to a credit or debit card, at participating retailers.

Pandemic EBT funds are loaded onto recipients' existing EBT cards. The program is fully federally funded, but individual states help with its administration.

Despite its intention to support families when schools are out of session in the summer, states this year will have until the end of 2023 to dispense the funds. New Hampshire did not distribute the summer 2022 funds until the spring of 2023.

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