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UPDATE: Baker-Polito Administration announces over $40 million in approved Pandemic EBT

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BOSTON– The Baker-Polito Administration announced today that it received federal approval to issue additional Pandemic EBT, or P-EBT, benefits in September to promote increased food security for families who participate in the United States Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program. These funds will help cover the cost of missed school meals from the month of September due to delayed school opening or remote learning, for over 470,000 students and their families. Benefits will start being distributed on September 30, 2020 for an estimated total amount of over $40 million of federal dollars.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act gave states the ability to request special waivers from the Secretary of USDA to establish a new federal program, P-EBT. The Massachusetts program was first launched in April 2020 to help more than 522,000 students buy healthy food while schools were closed from March through June due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This brought more than $207 million in federal dollars into the Commonwealth, supporting families across the state and local retailers.

“Thanks to close coordination at the state and local level, Massachusetts was one of the first states approved for P-EBT and continues to be a leader on addressing food security and maximizing federally funded food assistance programs that support many of our vulnerable populations, including children,” said COVID-19 Command Center Director and Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. “Every individual, family and community in the Commonwealth should have access to healthy food. These P-EBT benefits will continue to help hundreds of thousands of families.”

“P-EBT proved to be a highly effective tool for helping families across the state directly access food early on in the state’s response to the pandemic,” said Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner Amy Kershaw. “Securing these additional federal funds will provide much needed assistance for our families in feeding their students as they navigate this complicated transition back to school.”

“We want to give students all the support we can as they return to learning this fall,” said Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley. “We know that COVID-19 continues to impact families, and these P-EBT funds will supplement the grab-and-go meals that schools and community organizations are offering.”

P-EBT is administered by DTA and DESE. Eligible students who receive DTA benefits will receive their P-EBT benefits on their existing EBT card. Eligible students who do not receive DTA benefits, but were mailed a P-EBT card in the past, will receive their P-EBT benefits on their existing P-EBT card. Families who lost their P-EBT card can request a new one at DTAConnect.com/pebt starting October 1. Newly eligible students will receive a P-EBT card in the mail in October. Many families eligible for P-EBT are also eligible for on-going food assistance benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and are encourage to check eligibility and apply at www.DTAConnect.com.

Eligible students will receive $5.86 a day based on the number of days their school building has been closed due to delayed start and the days they are learning remotely for at least five days in a row in the month. Families can check their P-EBT balance by calling the number on the back of the card. P-EBT benefits can be used anywhere SNAP benefits are accepted, including online from Walmart and Amazon. Learn more about P-EBT at MAp-ebt.org.

P-EBT benefits supplement the free grab and go meal sites that are still available this fall. They do not replace them. Kids and teens can get free meals at hundreds of locations throughout the state, no registration or ID required. Meals will be available as late as December 31, 2020. Locations are continuously added and updated—if you do not see a location near you, please check back regularly. Find a location near you.

The Shah Family Foundation wants to remind families that those that already have SNAP/ TAFDC or P-EBT from the past should have gotten funds on their cards on September 30. Families who are new to P-EBT will get a letter in the mail explaining eligibility, and then will get a separate card in the mail.

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