Kentucky and Jackson County families with children who normally receive free or reduced-price meals at school are now able to get financial help from the state. Approximately 75% of Kentucky students receive free or reduced-price meals, according to Department of Education Interim Commissioner Kevin C. Brown. "Schools do more than just teach our children, they also help provide nourishment," Brown said. "Students used to receive these meals at school, and now we can provide that benefit at home, too."
Since schools had to close due to the coronavirus pandemic, those missed meals will be replaced through Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer or P-EBT. The P-EBT program is provided through the USDA as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Human Services, Department for Community Based Services and Kentucky Department of Education have worked together to make the program available for Kentucky families.
The federally-funded program provides families with an EBT card with benefits equal to the value of breakfasts and lunches a student was not able to receive when schools were closed, up to $313.50. These benefits can be used to purchase SNAP-eligible grocery items like meat, produce, and dairy products.
Eligible households include children who are either certified to get free or reduced-price meals at school or attend a school that offers free meals to all students. Even if a school was able to provide meals through a mobile feeding program, those students are still eligible for the benefits.
Families who currently receive public assistance through SNAP, Kinship Care or other services will be automatically enrolled and no action is required. The P-EBT benefits will be applied to the family's EBT card no later than May 28.
If a family is not receiving assistance and would like to enroll in the program, an application is available online through Benefind. Once approved, an EBT card should arrive through the mail within 10 business days with activation and card use instructions. The online application will be available from June 2 through June 30. Students can still participate in summer feeding programs while receiving P-EBT benefits.
The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program will provide each eligible student with a one-time payment of $313.50 to cover meals students missed out on between March and May, according to a news release from Gov. Andy Beshear's office. According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), the breakdown of payment is as follows:
Daily Rate: $5.70
March total: $68.40
April total: $125.40
May total: $119.70
Overall total: $313.50
Who is eligible for P-EBT?
All public and private school students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals and students who attend schools that provide free meals for all students are eligible for P-EBT.
How and when will I get my benefits?
• P-EBT benefits will be added to existing EBT cards beginning May 22, 2020.
• Households currently receiving public assistance (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps; TANF; Foster/Kinship Care and/or Medicaid) with income less than the federal income limit will be enrolled automatically. Other eligible households must complete a simple application. Once approved for P-EBT, these households will receive a card within 10 business days with activation and card use instructions. Benefits for March and April will be on the card when activated. May benefits will be added approximately three weeks later. Approved households may call toll free (888) 979-9949 for assistance activating their cards and for more information.
Can schools continue to provide meals through traditional summer feeding programs? Yes. Summer feeding programs should continue to operate and families should continue to receive these meals for their children. Children may participate in more than one nutrition assistance program.
The P-EBT funds can be used to purchase any of the following items, according to the CHFS:
• Fruits and vegetables
• Meat, poultry, fish
• Dairy products
• Breads and cereals
• Snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages
• Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat
The P-EBT funds cannot be used to purchase:
• Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, tobacco
• Vitamins, medicines, supplements
• Live animals
• Prepared food fit for immediate consumption
• Hot foods
• Nonfood items such as: Pet foods, cleaning supplies, paper products, hygiene items, cosmetics and other household supplies
For more information on the P-EBT program, visit the Kentucky Cabinet of Health and Family Services website or contact the P-EBT Information Hub at firstname.lastname@example.org.