|By State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a plan to provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to students who are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals at school through the National School Lunch Program. This program, known as Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT), will be temporary and is designed to bridge the gap left by school closings and help families who may have strained resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan allows the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide SNAP funds to households with children who lost access to free or reduced-price school meals. P-EBT funds are disbursed through EBT cards issued to qualifying families.
A family’s benefit is based on the federal daily reimbursement rate of free school breakfasts and lunches, or approximately $5.70 per child. That works out to a benefit of $370.50 per child if the student was receiving the meals when school closures began in March.
Parents of Hazleton Area School District students recently began receiving the P-EBT cards by mail. Those who haven’t yet, should be on the lookout for a plain, nondescript envelope which can easily be confused with junk mail and thrown out.
The cards say “P-EBT” on them. My office heard from many families who thought they were receiving the card by mistake. The cards are usually imprinted with the name of the parents or student. They must be used within 180 days of receipt or the monies will be returned to DHS.
This one-time payment of up to $370.50 per eligible student is a great benefit to our children during the current health emergency. It is imperative that we make sure young people are being fed during these difficult times. These extra funds give many local families one less thing to worry about.
The P-EBT program will allow DHS to provide funds to cover the cost of breakfast and lunch for approximately 958,000 school-aged children in Pennsylvania.
Representative Tarah Toohil
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office