Governor Jon Bell Edwards has announced that or families of children who normally receive free or reduced-price meals at school may be eligible for financial assistance to replace those meals under the new Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program underwritten by the US Department of Agriculture.
Local school systems will notify families who had children in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade they might be eligible for P-EBT. The families must then apply if they wish to receive the benefits. The application will be available in a P-EBT portal on the LDE website. The deadline to apply is June 7. These benefits are intended to cover 50 school days, from the onset of statewide school facility closures on March 16th through the end of the 2019-20 academic year.
“This might be the only way some of our most vulnerable children can obtain a nutritious breakfast or lunch,” Edwards said. “Louisiana is grateful to Congress, President Donald Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for making this benefit available and speeding its implementation.
Louisiana had an estimated 611,430 children eligible for free and reduced-price breakfast or lunch this spring, about 85 percent of all students in prekindergarten through grade 12. Acting Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Beth Scioneaux echoed her appreciation.
“Schools do more than educate our children; they also provide them with healthy, nutritious meals. With school facilities closed for the duration of the school year, students cannot access these meals,”
The P-EBT benefit amounts to $5.70 per day per child. That’s $285 for the 50 days, the same as the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs reimbursement rates. Louisiana officials estimate the state could distribute almost $174.3 million via P-EBT.
Once the child’s information is verified, DCFS will mail a P-EBT debit card loaded with $285 per child, and instructions for using the card. State officials expect to begin mailing cards May 26. Benefits will be available for 365 days. The cards may be used at any store that accepts SNAP to buy SNAP-eligible food items.
The P-EBT program was authorized by Congress in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020. In obtaining federal approval for P-EBT, Louisiana joins more than 22 other states participating in the program.