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Baker-Polito Administration Announces Federal Approval for September Pandemic EBT

Updated: Sep 24

Over 470,000 students will receive P-EBT benefits starting September 30, 2020

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 (NSLP). 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 available (being distributed) 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.

P-EBT builds upon the work of the Massachusetts COVID-19 Command Center’s Food Security Task Force to ensure that food insecurity and food supply needs are addressed during the COVID-19 public health emergency and into the long-term, including:

  • Setting up more than 1,500 grab and go meal sites at schools across the Commonwealth

  • Issuing emergency SNAP benefits to more than 240,000 households to bring all SNAP recipients to their maximum benefit amount, bringing more than $210 million of federal dollars into the state

  • Launching the SNAP Online Purchasing Program to allow SNAP recipients to use their benefits to buy groceries online from Walmart and Amazon, with over $9 million in transactions to date

  • Establishing a $36 million Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program

  • Investing $5 million in the Healthy Incentives Program to bring on new retailers

DTA assists and empowers low-income individuals and families to meet their basic needs, improve their quality of life, and achieve long term economic self-sufficiency. DTA serves one in eight residents of the Commonwealth with direct economic assistance and food assistance, as well as workforce training opportunities. DTA administers three core programs: SNAP; Transitional Aid for Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC); and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children (EAEDC). Learn more: https://www.mass.gov/DTA/COVID-19

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is committed to preparing all students for success after high school. The Department's work includes licensing educators, distributing state and federal education money, helping districts implement learning standards, overseeing statewide standardized tests, monitoring schools and districts, and convening districts and individuals to share best practices. In addition, we collect data to inform state and local decisions. Learn more: http://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/.

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