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New EBT program helps New Yorkers manage food insecurity during the summer

A man places beets into a wooden bucket at a farm stand

Cassandra Robinson lives on the city’s west side in a house on Magnolia Street with 10 kids — her children and grandchildren.

She said she uses Foodlink’s summer meal program to help feed her family.

“I'm a struggling grandmother and single parent,” Robinson said. “It helps me make ends meet.”

This summer Robinson will also be eligible for a New York State electronic benefits transfer program that will give low-income families $120 in food benefits for each eligible child up to 18 years old.

The money will be placed on an EBT card that families can use to buy produce, meats and dairy at authorized locations.

“We know that the summer months can be especially challenging for families as kids lose access to the healthy meals that they receive at school,” said Cody Bloomfield, summer nutrition specialist for Hunger Solutions New York, a nonprofit that works to alleviate hunger through federal nutrition programs like EBT.

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“Summer EBT combined with (Foodlink's) summer meal sites operating throughout Rochester and statewide will help ensure kids are well fed all summer long and ready to learn when they return to school in the fall,” Bloomfield said.

She said families can participate in the summer EBT program and summer meals at the same time.

Bloomfield said that these programs, along with SNAP and WIC, are intended to work together to provide greater nutritional support during the summer months.

Eligible New Yorkers can apply for summer EBT starting July 1. Bloomfield said the food benefits are expected to be issued later this summer.

Robinson hopes more people need take advantage of these federal programs.

“I feel like there's no reason for a child to be hungry out here, or a family to be hungry,” she said.

Racquel Stephen is WXXI's health, equity and community reporter and producer. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in broadcasting and digital journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.