BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – The Georgia Division of Family & Children Services (DFCS) and Georgia Department of Education (DOE) received approval to operate the new Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program.
P-EBT will provide 1.1M children, who normally receive free or reduced meals, and families with assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the DFCS website, families will receive a one-time allotment of $256.50 in total P-EBT benefits per child based on the number of school closure days.
It’s a no-cost program that should begin in July and benefits are non-transferable. New information is being added to the DFCS website as details are finalized.
DFCS secured approval for $5.07 per day for the 45 days children missed school in Georgia. The program will work in conjunction with other services and benefits available to families during the pandemic. Families should continue to take advantage of local school and community meal sites.
All children accepting free or reduced school meals, “if not for their school closure due to COVID-19, are eligible to receive P-EBT.” Due to the mandated school closures, these children and families can now obtain a P-EBT card to cover the costs of meals. The P-EBT card works at approved Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) EBT retailers to purchase food items.
If families are already on SNAP benefits, they do not need to apply for P-EBT. Eligible SNAP benefits will receive a preloaded P-EBT automatically on their existing EBT card.
Everyone else, who qualifies for free or reduced lunch, must apply, and complete the entire application to see if their child is eligible. Applications are processed in the order that they are received. If approved, these families should receive a P-EBT in the mail within three to four weeks along with instructions on how to use it. The card will be mailed to the address listed on the application.
“Families receiving a P-EBT card will need to create a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to activate the card. Applicants may log into https://www.connectebt.com/gaebtclient/ or call 888-421-3281 to complete this process. If a P-EBT card is not received from the vendor, recipients can email email@example.com for assistance.” – DFCS website.
The distribution dates for SNAP families will be released once final dates are determined. P-EBT benefits will roll over from month-to-month but must be used within 365 days. Any unused P-EBT benefit after 365 days will be removed from the account.
The program was approved by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to aid families with children that have lost access to free or reduced school meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. DFCS and DOE collaborated on the program. DFCS utilized May 2020 data from DOE to determine eligibility and enrollment in the school meal program. Students must have participated in reduced meals during the 2019-2020 school year.
Children in charter and private schools who receive free or reduced meals through the National School Lunch Program should be able to receive P-EBT benefits too.
Homeschooled and Pre-K children should also be able to receive P-EBT if they partake in a federal free or reduced lunch program.
Headstart children aren’t eligible for P-EBT. Families not eligible can contact 211 for assistance from food banks, food pantries, or other resources, as well as visit: https://www.unitedway.org/our-impact/featured-programs/2-1-1.
Foster parents need to sign up for their foster children currently in their care.
Since DFCS is finalizing the program, expect updates. Fetch Your News will adjust this article as details are released.