Every family with a child attending public school in Lincoln County will receive an Oregon Trail card in June as part of a demonstration study aimed at providing food assistance to children during the summer months. Made in three installments, families will receive a total of $86 loaded onto the card for food purchases as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children (SEBTC) program. Although SEBTC has been offered in many Oregon communities since 2011, this is the first time Lincoln County has been included. According to USDA, nationwide expansion of the program in 2017 “would result in thousands of children being spared from food insecurity over the next decade.”
Because of the high number of low-income children in the Lincoln County School District (LCSD), the State determined that all children within the district are eligible for this program, which is designed to address any gaps for those students unable to participate in free summer meal programs. “LCSD School Nutrition Services provides summer meal sites throughout Lincoln County, but ours is a large county with many rural areas and that makes it difficult for many students and families to take advantage of these meals,” said Julie Baldwin, LCSD Director of Business Services. Visit the district website at www.lincoln.k12.or.us for a complete list of summer meal sites.
This summer program will provide families with “an additional boost to their food budget,” Baldwin added, noting that the district also assists families during the school year by serving 300,000 breakfasts and 520,000 lunches, as well as 28,000 dinners at after-school locations – all at no cost to students.
Participation in the SEBTC program is optional. Although all families with a school-aged child will receive an Oregon Trail card and are invited to participate, only those who choose to activate it will receive the funds. Much like credit card activation, the receiving family will make a simple phone call to activate the account. In those instances where a card is not activated or monies not used by Sept. 5, 2017, funds will be retained by the State of Oregon, according to program officials.
“We are thankful as a district to have this opportunity to provide a benefit like this to all students, but particularly to low-income families who are especially challenged by summer food expenses,” Baldwin noted. “While we know and respect the fact that some families may choose not to utilize the program, state parameters for our district require sending cards to all families and through that approach, we are able to get this assistance into the hands of those who need it most,” she added.
After the one-time activation, funds become available to families on the following timetable: $21 on June 10, $30 on July 1, and $35 on Aug. 1. Families with more than one child will see those amounts multiplied by the number of school-aged children. Those who already have an Oregon Trail card will see the funds added to their existing account. Officials project the program could bring as much as $465,000 grocery dollars into Lincoln County, helping businesses as well as families. Those funds are subject to the same food-only restrictions as other assistance programs offered through the Oregon Trail card.
For more information about SEBTC or other Lincoln County School District nutrition assistance programs, contact Jamie Nicholson, LCSD Child Nutrition Program Manager, at (541)265-4420.
Information provided by LCSD