California Sent $1,700 COVID-19 Food Stamp Cards To High-Income Families: Report
California Gov. Gavin Newsom pauses during a news conference after touring Barron Park Elementary School on March 02, 2021 in Palo Alto, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California sent food stamp cards loaded with up to $1,700 to residents in parts of North County San Diego, including to the mailboxes of numerous high-income residents, according to a new report.

RealClearPolitics reported on Thursday that the pre-loaded cards were mailed to the homes of students from at least two high schools, which could include more than one card per student. The communities involved in the report include median household incomes between $138,078 to $200,000.

According to the report, the eligibility method used to send out the payments appeared to include schools that fit into a federal school lunch category.

“A California DSS spokesperson tells RCP that 854 schools in the state fit into the same federal school lunch category as the two schools in North County San Diego where all students received the cards – Torrey Pines High School and La Costa Canyon High School,” the report noted.

“If all students at these schools received the cards regardless of income, as appears to be the case, it would amount to more than $1 billion in federal P-EBT going to California students who usually wouldn’t qualify for federal reimbursement for free breakfasts and lunches,” it added.

California DSS spokesperson Theresa Mier told the outlet there were 853 Provision 2 schools across the state in which the entire student body received the food cards.

RealClearPolitics further noted that the widespread food card program may extend beyond California. The report cited an Atlanta-area school system that mentioned several thousand students receiving similar cards.

“A spokesperson with the Georgia Department of Human Services said some students are automatically eligible for the benefit if they attend a Community Eligibility Provision school, which is why thousands of students across the state received P-EBT cards in the mail,” 11-Alive News Atlanta reported.

In California, the concern includes both sending the pre-loaded cards to affluent households as well as complaints that an alleged $183 million in cards did not reach needy families.

Arkansas Republican Sen. John Boozman, the ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee overseeing the school lunch programs, shared a statement claiming that, if true, the misuse of funds is “wrong” and “fuels erosion of trust.”

“USDA has not chosen to share this information with us, but if true, it raises a number of concerns,” Boozman told RCP in the statement. “Congress never intended for the Pandemic EBT program to be used in the manner described. It is supposed to be administered in a targeted and means-tested way to ensure it reaches those who need the assistance. Misuse of taxpayer funds in this manner is wrong and what fuels erosion of trust in these programs.”

The news comes as Republicans in the Senate successfully blocked a supplemental funding bill for COVID-19 relief amid growing calls to continue Title 42 immigration restrictions. The Daily Wire reported:

All 50 Republicans in the Senate voted against advancing the bill Tuesday, along with Democratic  Senators Ron Wyden (OR) and Chuck Schumer (NY). According to the New York Post, Schumer changed his vote at the last minute, a procedural move so that he could bring the bill to the floor again. Democrats need 60 votes to pass a procedural hurdle needed to advance the bill to debate and a vote, but Republicans threatened to kill the bill unless their demands for an amendment to keep Title 42 in place are met. The Trump-era rule which allowed the U.S. to expel migrants coming into the country during the COVID-19 pandemic is set to end on May 23.

“There’ll have to be an amendment on Title 42 to move the bill,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters at a press conference after the vote, via The Hill. “There are several other amendments that we’re going to want to offer, and so we’ll need to enter into some kind of agreement to process these amendments in order to go forward with the bill.”

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