Sen. Seminara, CT Lawmakers Demand Answers Over Food Assistance Program Problems

July 1, 2024

CT lawmakers demand answers over summer EBT food assistance program problems

Hearst Connecticut Media

Thousands of Connecticut families were informed that summer food assistance would be delayed for months, one day before they expected to receive that assistance.

Now Connecticut state legislators are asking why a federal program intended to help bridge the summer gap for more than 270,000 low-income children would be delayed until August.
State Sen. Lisa Seminara, R-Avon, sent a letter Tuesday to Department of Social Services Commissioner Andrea Reeves asking the nature of the delay, and precisely when the summer food assistance would be distributed.

DSS announced via Facebook earlier this week that the $120 per child that was expected to be distributed this month would be unexpectedly delayed until “early August.”

“Can you tell me specifically what the ‘unexpected delays’ were?” Seminara asked in her letter to DSS. “Is there more detail regarding ‘early August’ as far as a specific date?”

State Rep. Pat Dillon, D-New Haven, said she, too, was concerned about the delay.

“I think the energy has been towards trying to find a remedy,” she said.

Dillon said she’s heard from constituents who fear they will be forced to choose between paying the rent or buying food.

“So much of what I have heard in recent years was tied to the cost of the rent,” she said “If you have to make a choice, you don’t want to get evicted. You try to skate on the food or you’ll see if there’s a way that you can supplement.”

State Sens. Martin Looney, Bob Duff and Matt Lesser jointly called for a more detailed explanation on why the program is delayed.

“Families expecting these benefits during the summer will be unable to access them until their children will already be preparing for the new school year,” they said in a joint statement. “Delays and issues happen, but the lack of explanation surrounding this change does not answer our constituents’ questions. The last-minute announcement will have a detrimental effect for thousands of families and will increase food insecurity across our communities.”

Christine Stuart, DSS spokesperson, said differences in eligibility requirements between the various food assistance programs, and differences in the duration of the programs created administrative difficulties.

“Summer EBT is a brand new program and with any program of this size it took a lot of coordination with several state agencies. That coordination took us longer than anticipated and while we worked hard to minimize the impact on our clients, we recognize that we were unsuccessful in that effort,” Stuart said. “DSS fully recognizes that this process did not unfold as it should, and the commissioner apologizes to the families who are impacted by the delay. Right now, DSS is working tirelessly with our internal and external partners to accelerate the process as quickly as we can in order to get these much needed benefits to Connecticut families.”

The state received funding for the program in May, Stuart said, adding that Connecticut must return to the federal government any funds not disbursed to qualifying residents.

Nonprofit Feeding America released in May data that showed that 112,600 Connecticut children experienced food insecurity in 2022, up 34 percent from the previous year.

S-EBT is a new, nationwide program intended to provide $120 — $40 a month for three months — in food assistance per child for families that meet income thresholds, or who are registered with other state programs like SNAP or Head Start, or are listed as homeless.

According to Connecticut’s plan, filed last year with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, 273,000 children in the state are expected to receive benefits under the program, for a total of $32.8 million in benefits.

“Connecticut announced that they were going to be participating in summer EBT quite a few months ago,” Molly Stadnicki, program manager for End Hunger Connecticut! said. “So I know people have been looking at eligibility and trying to figure out if they’re getting the funds, so people have been waiting for it for months, knowing that they’re going to get this funding.”

Stadnicki noted that Connecticut had been part of a Summer EBT pilot program in 2011, and had distributed supplemental food assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were also involved in pandemic EBT, which I would have thought would provide some infrastructure during the summer,” she said. “I feel like parents especially deserve to know why these benefits that they’re entitled to are being delayed a day before they’re supposed to get them.”

Where to find summer food assistance

Many towns and cities maintain information on local food assistance programs on municipal websites. In addition, the CT Summer Meals Program will soon be updated with relevant data for families seeking assistance. An interactive map can be found at

Connecticut Foodshare Mobile Pantries can be found at, and Connecticut’s resource finder can be reached by dialing 211 or logging on to