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Department of Human Services Announces Pandemic-EBT Plan Approval to Cover the 2021-2022 School Year, Outlines Updated Eligibility

05/11/2022

Harrisburg, PA - Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Meg Snead today announced that the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) has approved Pennsylvania’s Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) plan for the 2021-2022 school year. Eligible families will begin to receive these P-EBT benefits in mid-to-late June.

“The P-EBT program has been a lifeline to Pennsylvania families with children affected by school closure throughout the pandemic, and I am pleased that FNS has recognized the continued need for this vital program,” said Acting Secretary Snead. “The continuation of P-EBT will ensure eligible children and families whose in-person schooling was disrupted due to a confirmed COVID-19 case or school closure will receive support for meals that they would have otherwise received if they were in school.”

“We know that healthy minds are fueled by healthy bodies, and P-EBT helps ensure that students have access to nutritious meals both in and out of school,” said Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty. “This critical program has a profound effect on the lives of so many in communities across the commonwealth, and we are pleased to see it continue uninterrupted.”

P-EBT is designed to help eligible families cover the cost of breakfasts and lunches their children would have been eligible to receive for free or at a reduced price through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in child care or school settings that closed temporarily or permanently due to the COVID-19 pandemic. School children who received free or reduced-price school meals are eligible for these 2021-2022 school year benefits if their school was closed or had reduced hours for a period of at least five consecutive days due to COVID-19 and if the student was absent from the classroom due to COVID-19.

Families who have previously received and activated P-EBT cards should keep them and ensure that the child’s school has a current mailing address and the correct birthdate for any school-aged children. Parents who have a standard EBT card for other benefits such as SNAP and cash assistance and have children who were deemed eligible for P-EBT will have their P-EBT benefits loaded to their EBT card, if possible. Families can use their P-EBT benefits to purchase almost any unprepared food item in participating grocery stores or food markets that accept EBT, and the program follows the same rules as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for eligible purchases.

Those who do not still have their P-EBT cards will be able to get a replacement through an automated replacement card process that will be available once issuances begin. More information on this process will be available soon.

Families of students who entered kindergarten in Fall 2021 or entered a different school district for the 2021-2022 school year can fill out an application for free or reduced-price school meals by visiting your school district’s website or by applying through COMPASS.

The P-EBT Hotline is available to for families who need further assistance or to report an issue at 484-363-2137. More information on P-EBT can be found here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brandon Cwalina - ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov

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