Families to Receive Funds for Food While Schools are Closed

(Agudath Israel of America/Hamodia) -

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 authorized the payment of Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) food benefits to households with children who would have received free or reduced-price school meals under the National School Lunch Act, if not for a school closure.

The P-EBT program will provide eligible households with the amount that would have been spent by the government for free breakfast and lunch which equals $5.70 per child. This can mean hundreds of dollars per child as schools in many states have been closed since the middle of March. Some states are advising that parents do not have to do anything yet to receive the benefits and more information will be mailed to them while other states may require an application from parents or action by their schools. Agudath Israel has reached out to state officials in several states on behalf of nonpublic schools and are awaiting responses to some of their specific questions.

Children may continue to receive “grab n go” meals or emergency food at COVID-19 emergency feeding sites offered by schools and community locations, even if they are receiving P-EBT benefits. Many states will be sending out their first payments in the days and weeks ahead.

The NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) announced that the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program will provide eligible households with a total of about $420 per child, with school buildings closed for the remainder of the school year due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Families will not need to apply for the program. About 1.3 million children living in households enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), receiving Temporary Assistance benefits or Medicaid will automatically receive the additional assistance through their existing EBT cards.

OTDA is also working with the state Education Department to identify an additional 800,000 children in households that are not receiving Medicaid, SNAP or Temporary Assistance, but are receiving free and reduced-price school meals. These families will be mailed a temporary EBT card along with instructions for activating the card and accessing their assistance.

For more information regarding the P-EBT program, who is eligible, and how it works, please see Agudath Israel’s national P-EBT FAQ page here.