This month, thanks to a federal aid program, over 1 million Chicago Public School children will receive a Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer card with hundreds of dollars on it for food purchases. This card is for EVERY Chicago Public School student, not just those in need. As a mom of three public school children, soon to be four (my youngest will enter kindergarten in the fall), I have been fortunate enough to not need food assistance throughout the pandemic. As a volunteer working with my local food pantry, The Friendship Center, I have seen firsthand how many households have been impacted by COVID and are struggling right now. After years of working within my local school community to develop a program to address basic unmet needs, I know how many were families were already food insecure before this all started.
This has been a long 13 months of virtual and/or hybrid school for every Chicago family. We’ve seen more of our children than ever. We’ve made them more meals than we can count. A lot of us are tired and can use some extra help. If these EBT cards are a needed boost for your family’s finances, then it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. But if your household doesn’t need the money right now, then there’s a real opportunity here to do some good. We can take our kids shopping for the food they like with EBT cards and then we can turn around and give the equivalent dollars back to those organizations that have been lifelines to those in need. With $450 a food pantry like the Friendship Center can source enough food to feed 18 families for an entire month.
If you are looking for a deeper involvement, go volunteer also! There are always boxes to be moved and they’ll be happy to have you there. But first, go use your EBT - buy your orange juice and lunch meats and cheerios - and then turn around and write a check. Believe me – you will feel fantastic for doing your part!
Read Jamie's whole letter here.