HARRISBURG, PA. (WETM) – The Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Meg Snead announced the start of distribution of $224 million in federally funded food assistance to low-income Pennsylvania families of about 223,000 young children through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program. P-EBT is designed to help eligible families cover the cost of breakfasts and lunches their children might have otherwise received in child care or school settings that closed temporarily or permanently due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The P-EBT program has been a lifeline to Pennsylvania families with children, so many of whom have struggled to cover the unanticipated costs of breakfasts and lunches normally provided to their children at school or in child care settings,” Acting Secretary Snead said. “I hope these benefits are a helpful boost to families of young children who, like all Pennsylvanians, are emerging from an unprecedented crisis.”
“Food is a critical building block that fuels a child’s growth and development,” said Secretary of Education Noe Ortega. “The P-EBT program bridges gaps and removes barriers created by the pandemic to help prevent hunger and ensure children continue to have access to meals.”
In late April, DHS received approval from the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to extend P-EBT benefit eligibility to families with children age 5 and younger who received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits between October 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021. Families with young children are eligible for P-EBT benefits if:
- The child is an eligible member of a household that received SNAP benefits
- The child is age 5 or younger, and
- At least one school in the county where the family resides or any contiguous county is determined to be operating on either a virtual schedule, where children complete all learning through online learning, or a blended schedule, where the students attend some days in person and some days virtually.
The benefit amount varies depending upon county of residence and is issued for the period of time that the family was enrolled in SNAP. Children residing in counties or neighboring a county where schools are operating 100 percent virtually will receive 100 percent of the benefit, while children in counties that are operating in a hybrid format will receive 65 percent of the benefit level. These levels will be re-evaluated throughout the summer. Full P-EBT benefits are equal to $6.82 per day that the child is eligible for P-EBT — $2.26 for breakfast, $0.96 for a snack and $3.60 for lunch.
Pennsylvania will distribute benefits to eligible families of young children in three phases, as follows:
- The first round of benefits is being distributed now.
- The second round of benefits will be distributed in late June or early July.
- The third round of benefits will be distributed in mid-August.
No application is necessary to receive the benefit, and the benefit will be received on the household’s regular EBT card. All eligible families will also receive a letter directly from DHS.
Additionally, in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), distribution of more than $1 billion in P-EBT benefits to eligible families of nearly 1 million school-age children is currently under way, and all families of eligible school-age children should receive their P-EBT benefits on their regular EBT cards or on cards mailed to them by June 30. If a child qualifies under both the school-aged and child care-aged P-EBT programs, the child will receive one benefit through the school-aged P-EBT program.
For more information about food assistance resources for people around Pennsylvania impacted by COVID-19 and the accompanying economic insecurity, visit the Department of Agriculture’s food security guide.
For more information on assistance programs available to help Pennsylvanians, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.