PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — More Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits are on the way for families of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.
Via the American Rescue Plan, all students who qualified for free or reduced-price meals during the 2020-2021 school year will receive a one-time lump sum of $375 to help cover this summer’s food expenses on August 25, regardless of whether the student chose remote, hybrid or in-person learning during the previous school year.
The program was initially launched under the CARES Act last spring, but originally only students learning remotely for five consecutive days were eligible for the benefit. New federal guidelines this year expanded eligibility to more than 135,000 children in Virginia.
The Virginia Department of Social Services says this additional payment will help more than 790,000 students with nutritional help during the summer. About $295 million in aid is scheduled to be loaded onto existing P-EBT cards or mailed to newly qualifying households.
“Food security during the summer remains a challenge for many Virginians, particularly for households that depend on school-provided meals,” said VDSS Commissioner S. Duke Storen. “The expansion of programs like P-EBT and access to community-based food programs have a measurable impact on decreasing food hardship and provide a critical lifeline to families in meeting their nutritional needs during the vulnerable summer months.”
It’s unclear if the payments will continue into the 2021-2022 school year for students who choose a virtual option. The USDA has been issuing guidance.
For more information on the summer P-EBT benefit, visit PebtVA.com or contact the P-EBT Call Center at 1-866-513-1414.
There are also several other programs to help with food insecurity, including SNAP and WIC. SNAP households with students under the age of 6 can also be eligible for P-EBT benefits. To learn more, click here.