HomeColumbiaColaEats program to fight food insecurity for Midlands students in absence of...

ColaEats program to fight food insecurity for Midlands students in absence of USDA’s 2024 Summer EBT program

Columbia, South Carolina – In an effort to address food shortages during the summer months, several organizations in the Midlands have come together to introduce ColaEats. This new program was announced at a news event held at 2805 Main Street on Friday at 2 p.m. Among the founders are the Columbia Food Policy Committee, the Columbia Urban League, No Kid Hungry, Wholespire Richland, and other groups. ColaEats aims to supply summer meals to students within the Richland One, Richland Two, and Lexington/Richland Five school districts. The primary objective of ColaEats is to secure 1,500 gift cards that will be given to students before their summer vacation begins.

The ColaEats can be redeemed at any Food Lion store and can be used for buying food but exclude purchases like alcohol and tobacco. The beneficiaries will be selected based on their vulnerability to food shortages, indicated by factors such as homelessness, use of food pantries, and other challenges. Furthermore, students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals at schools participating in the National School Lunch Program are also eligible for these cards.

ColaEats highlights that 62% of school-aged children in South Carolina rely on school meals. The initiative seeks to bridge the gap created by the absence of the USDA’s 2024 Summer EBT program. This federal program, which Governor McMaster rejected earlier this year, was intended to offer $40 monthly from June to August for children to spend on food at various outlets.

However, South Carolina would have had to fund half of the administrative costs in 2024, unlike in 2023 when the federal government covered these expenses completely. Governor McMaster deemed the program unnecessary post-pandemic, calling it a temporary COVID-19 relief measure.

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