Pandemic electronic benefits transfer funds program applications begin June 22
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) has announced that Nebraska has been approved to operate the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT), a new program authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which provides assistance to families of children who are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals and impacted by school closures.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in partnership with the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) will operate P-EBT, a supplemental food purchasing addition to current SNAP participants and as a new EBT benefit to other eligible households not participating in SNAP to offset the cost of meals that would have otherwise been consumed at school.
For the 2019-2020 school year, Nebraska had approximately 156,257 children eligible for free and reduced-priced lunches (all children in participating schools). Only families with children who were determined eligible by their school for the 2019-2020 school year will be eligible for the P-EBT program. Eligible families will be contacted by their schools on how to apply.
Currently families who are already participating in SNAP do not need to apply and will have their benefits automatically placed on their EBT card. Families who are not currently participating in SNAP but have been determined eligible by their schools to receive free or reduced-priced lunches will need to apply for P-EBT through the P-EBT online application and will receive a specific “P-EBT" card. A family's address must be registered with the post office to ensure delivery of the P-EBT card. The application period will run from June 22, 2020 to July 19, 2020. Information needed for the application includes: name of school, student ID number (if utilized), child(ren) name, parent/guardian name, and mailing address. No additional applications will be received for this one-time program after July 19.
Those who are approved for P-EBT will receive two issuances, one between July 28-31 and another between August 15-19. The allocations will vary based on the number of months of eligibility determined for the child(ren) for the free/reduced school lunch program during the months of March, April, and May. If a child is eligible for the maximum amount of P-EBT benefits, they will receive a total of $281. The July maximum issuance is $141, and the August issuance maximum is $140.
Families who do not have access to the internet to apply online can call the ACCESSNebraska hotline at 800-383-4278 to apply or stop by participating food banks that can help fill out applications in person.
Receiving P-EBT benefits will not affect a family's ability to receive other benefits and benefits will be good for one year after receiving them. P-EBT benefits can be used to buy food at grocery stores and farmer's markets that accept SNAP EBT and to purchase groceries online at Amazon and Walmart.
Children and Family Services (CFS) Director Stephanie Beasley believes providing additional benefits to families who relied on free or reduced-priced school lunches from schools to help feed their children is part of DHHS's mission to “Help People Live Better Lives" saying, “The expansion of P-EBT will fill a significant gap for families that rely on free or reduced-priced school lunches, but saw this support end when schools closed in March. CFS will continue its commitment to work with families to provide necessary resources and guidance to offset the negative effects of COVID-19."