1. Update
  2. Economic Justice

Despite Failure on COVID-19 Relief, Congress Extends Pandemic EBT

By Andre Gobbo, October 16, 2020


Congressional failure to pass another COVID-19 relief bill puts millions of lives and livelihoods at risk and ensures that we won’t see a robust relief package until after the election. However, a recently passed continuing resolution to keep the government open included one win: an extension of the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program.

Des Moines Public Schools launched a huge increase in the number of free meal sites for students during the COVID-19 closure, going from 22 to 50 locations around the city. Here students on scooters receive a bag of food from volunteers.

The P-EBT program provides money to buy groceries to families whose kids qualify for free or reduced-price meals if their child’s school closes. The program, originally slated to expire on Sept. 30, 2020, is now extended to Sept. 30, 2021. As a result, thousands of families will continue to have access to this important program and get help putting food on the table.

While the extension of P-EBT is great news, it’s still not enough to meet the tremendous need across the country.

A recent Census Pulse survey found that nearly 78 million adults — almost 1 in 3 — are struggling to pay usual household expenses. An earlier study found that almost 1 in 7 adults lived in households that were falling behind on rent payments, and almost 1 in 8 adults lived in households with children who were not getting enough to eat. These rates of hardship are even higher for people and families of color.

P-EBT is only one program among several larger assistance programs people across the country desperately need. Congress must act. Struggling families cannot wait until January for unemployment aid, help paying rent, or food assistance.

We can’t give up hope, and we must hold our elected leaders accountable. You can help by:

  1. Speaking out: Write a letter to the editor of your local paper expressing your dismay that the White House and Senate broke off negotiations. Contact media@fcnl.org and we can help.
  2. Making this an election issue: Get the candidates on the record and make sure you have a voting plan. When you cast your ballot, go with the concerns of your most vulnerable neighbors foremost on your mind.
  3. Giving: Donate to FCNL so we can keep doing this important work.

Andre Gobbo

  • Legislative Representative, Domestic Policy

Andre Gobbo adds capacity to the Domestic Policy team by handling constituent queries, writing action alerts and sign-on letters, assisting with lobbying visits, creating informational content, supporting coalition relationships, and helping execute FCNL’s legislative strategies.