Following an estimated 70 percent decrease in Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) allotments since last summer, twice as many families are experiencing food insecurity across all indicators.
In the contiguous US, summer 2023 P-EBT – a program intended to help cover summer meal costs for families whose students usually receive free meals at school – was limited to just $120 per child for July and August. In 2022, the average summer benefit was $391 per child.
Together, the federal public health emergency’s expiration in May and Congressional action eliminated summer P-EBT for children under age six who receive SNAP and brought the standard benefit down for all families to approximately $2.18 per day from $7.10 per day in summer 2022.
Year-over-year, the share of surveyed households receiving P-EBT that skipped meals in the last month rose from 20% to 42%. The share that ate less due to budget constraints rose from 27% to 55%. Nearly 40% of surveyed households on summer 2023 P-EBT relied on family or friends for food, up from 15% in August 2022. 34% of surveyed households visited food pantries last month, compared to just 19% last summer.
“I had to borrow money to buy groceries because my paycheck barely covers the monthly bills. I have two children in my house that are fully dependent on me. I’ve gone days without eating so that I can purchase gas, pampers, food, daily hygiene items. I’m so overwhelmed and frustrated. My health is starting to fail due to the excessive stress and poor eating.” - Providers user, NJ
“I still bought what the kids needed & wanted, but I found myself eating only their leftovers & skipping meals.” - Corinne, VA
Households with children and P-EBT recipients are more likely to be experiencing financial hardship.
65% of surveyed households receiving summer P-EBT believe that the cash they have on hand will only last them one or two days compared to 60% of respondents overall.
67% of surveyed households currently enrolled in P-EBT are carrying some kind of debt compared to 60% of respondents overall.
22% of households with children were behind on rent last month compared to just 10% of childless households.
31% of households with children were behind on utility payments last month compared to just 16% of childless households.
“I've had to borrow money for food on multiple occasions so I could feed my kids. I have also had to borrow money for PG&E, water, garbage, and insurance. Cost of living is so high right now.” - Rebecca, CA
Amid lingering summer heat waves, more Providers households are facing utility shut-offs and falling behind on rent.
12% of surveyed households had their utilities shut off in the last month, an 8% increase from July and a record-high since March 2021 when households were first surveyed on energy insecurity.
Nearly 30% of respondents couldn’t pay off their utility bills last month, a 9% increase from July.
The share of surveyed users who couldn’t pay their rent in full rose 23% from July to 16% of respondents overall.
Nearly 40% of households with children owe on rent or mortgage payments and nearly 60% owe past-due utility bills.
“My water is shut off and I have been trying to get help but I haven’t been approved. I work but it’s still not enough so family and friends helped me and my kids with letting us shower at their homes.” - Providers user, AZ
“My family helped with groceries after the electricity went out due to a storm for 5 days. I had to replace over $500 in frozen/refrigerated foodstuffs.” - John, TX