August 24, 2021

Florida hasn’t asked for $820 million in federal food assistance for children

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Lawrence Mower writes:

"TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has not yet applied for up to $820 million in food assistance to more than 2 million Florida children, raising concerns from food assistance groups and others who note that child hunger remains a significant problem.

The federal program, called the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program, was created last year to help feed children who missed meals because they weren’t attending schools in person during the pandemic. The program deposits money to a card for families of children who qualify for free or reduced meals at their school. It was created by the federal government last year to ensure children were still being fed while they attended school remotely.


'It’s a very troubling trend that we’re leaving money on the table to feed people in need, at no cost to Floridians,”'said Cindy Huddleston, a senior policy analyst for the Florida Policy Institute [emphasis added], a progressive think tank.

Huddleston said the Department of Children and Families, which handles the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and other food assistance programs, hasn’t told her whether they will apply for the summer program.


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