Syracuse, N.Y. — Some families across the state are getting some extra lunch money this month in their mailboxes.
Prepaid food stamp debit cards with $420 on them have been going out this month from the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. The cards are part of pandemic relief funding to make up for school lunches that children did not receive in the spring.
But some of the families who are receiving the cards have no idea what they are or why they’re getting them. That’s because any student who attends a school where there was free lunch for all students, called community eligibility, will receive one of the cards.
Families in those districts do not have to meet any income guidelines to get the cards and do not have to fill out any paperwork. For families who have never received public assistance or food stamps, the cards are simply showing up in mailboxes, unannounced.
Families that already receive public assistance had the money added to their accounts earlier this year. They will not be receiving a separate card or additional money this month.
This is only happening in districts where the poverty rates are high enough that the schools are able to participate in a federal program that allows every child in the district to receive free meals, regardless of individual income. Syracuse is one of those districts.
Other Upstate districts include Rochester, Buffalo, Albany, Utica, Geneva, Altmar-Parish-Williamstown, some schools in Liverpool and Hannibal. To see other districts, you can search a database maintained by the Food Research and Action Center.
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