No news is sad news: Still waiting on P-EBT school meals benefits

We were waiting to provide an update on PEBT when we knew more about how it would work this year. Sadly, we still don’t have many details to share.

On September 30th, Congress approved PEBT to cover the time from October 1 2020, to September 30, 2021. The law had several changes to PEBT to cover more children:

  • School-age children are eligible if:
    • they are enrolled at a school participating in the national school lunch program (Free and Reduced-Price Meals); and
    • they attend a school that has reduced the number of operating school days, either by being entirely virtual or by operating under a “hybrid model” (students at school some days, doing virtual learning other days).
  • The state can choose to apply to provide PEBT benefits for some children who attend a child care facility if:
    • the facility provides meals through the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program; and
    • the facility is closed or has reduced days or hours; and
    • the child is also receiving SNAP benefits (“food stamps”). There is also language about “simplified eligibility assumptions” that makes this a little unclear.

Because these are new rules, here is what needs to happen before you’ll receive additional PEBT benefits.

  1. The federal administration (the USDA) has to provide states with rules and guidance about how they can distribute benefits.
  2. PA must submit a plan to the USDA on how the state will distribute benefits and to whom.
  3. The USDA has to approve the plan.
  4. There will be an application period or schools will send student information to the state (like they did for the first round).
  5. The state can start sending out benefits.

The federal administration has not yet released any guidance; we are still waiting for #1 to happen. So we can’t say for sure when benefits will be coming, the amount, or if the process for getting benefits will be different this time around.

What parents should do at this point:

  • Apply for free and reduced price meals for this school year, if you haven’t already and your school doesn’t automatically provide free meals to all students. New income limits went into effect June 30th.
  • If you think you might qualify for SNAP benefits, apply. New income limits went into effect October 1st. (Learn more on our Food Stamps page)
  • Make sure your address and contact information stays up-to-date with your school.
  • If you received a P-EBT card, keep it. Benefits might be issued to that card when benefits start going out. If you already discarded it, there will be a way to request a new one if needed.

We will post an update on our P-EBT FAQ page as soon as we hear any!

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