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Important P-EBT Updates: MA students to receive Sept P-EBT & likely for rest of School Year 20/21

We have two piece of BIG news in P-EBT land:
 
1.  P-EBT for September:  DTA and DESE pursued and were approved for September P-EBT benefits for Massachusetts students. This includes P-EBT for the delayed start of schools as well as P-EBT for any children in remote learning situations or hybrid learning, provided the child is not physically at school for 5 consecutive days or longer.  This means over $40M in P-EBT benefits to nearly 500K Massachusetts children. The amount each child will get may vary based on the number of days their school district has identified as delayed start or remote learning. 
 
The Baker Administration has nust released the media advisory (below) and the P-EBT website has been updated to specifically answer: "How do I get P-EBT in September?" Go to:  https://www.map-ebt.org/home/#ihdtab  
 
MLRI wishes to extend a HUGE thanks to DTA and DESE for pursuing the federal P-EBT September option, and within a very short time frame. MA has been a leadership state in P-EBT land. We commend both state agencies for their incredible work, jumping through "hoops of fire" to robustly provide P-EBT quickly and for so many Massachusetts families.  
 
2. Continued P-EBT passed by U.S. House: Last night the House passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the federal government open. The CR expressly includes language to allow states to continue providing P-EBT benefits through federal fiscal year 2021 (Oct 1, 2021), including for younger children in child care. The Senate is expected to pass the CR, and the President expected to sign it. The CR also allows states like DTA to continue key SNAP administrative flexibilities as well. Here is Speaker Pelosi's statement:
 
"To help the millions of families struggling to keep food on the table during the pandemic, Democrats have renewed the vital, expiring lifeline of Pandemic EBT for a full year and enabled our fellow Americans in the territories to receive this critical nutrition assistance," she continued. "Democrats secured urgently needed assistance for schoolchildren to receive meals despite the coronavirus's disruption of their usual schedules, whether virtual or in-person, and expanded Pandemic EBT access for young children in child care. We also extended key flexibility for states to lower administrative requirements on SNAP for families in the middle of this crisis."
 
See also FRAC's media advisory on the CR HERE:  https://frac.org/news/hr-cr-hunger  
 
 
HOWEVER - the House CR does not address the SNAP 15% boost, extend UI nor provide desperately needed state and local funds as states grabble with budget deficits. The SNAP Coalition needs to continue advocating for a robust COVID package before Congress recesses. #BoostSNAPNow  We will have more detailed updates on all these issues at next Tuesday's SNAP Coalition call, and will share additional info in the meantime. 
 
SAVE the Date: SNAP Coalition Zoom Meeting, Tuesday, September 29th, 10 to 11:30 AM
 
---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Davidson, Alana (DTA) <Alana.Davidson@mass.gov>
Date: Wed, Sep 23, 2020 at 10:40 AM
Subject: Baker-Polito Administration Announces Federal Approval for September Pandemic EBT
_______________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 23, 2020

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Federal Approval for September Pandemic EBT

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

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 (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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