The United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service recently announced Oklahoma’s approval to operate a Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program through funding provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. P-EBT provides extra food benefits for families with school-aged children who would have received free or reduced-priced school meals through the National School Lunch Program and who meet certain eligibility criteria.
Oklahoma Human Services and the Oklahoma State Department of Education worked together to create a state plan ensuring that every eligible household across the state could access benefits without needing to complete an application. Through a collaborative data-sharing agreement, current SNAP households identified by OKDHS, as well as non-SNAP households which include children eligible for free and reduced-price school meals identified by OSDE, will automatically receive P-EBT benefits.
“Oklahoma state agencies are collaborating more than ever before to build a stronger Oklahoma that better supports and brings hope to our state’s families,” said Justin Brown, secretary for human services and early childhood initiatives and OKDHS director. “Our partnership with OSDE is critical to ensuring all Oklahoma children eligible for P-EBT benefits receive them and that our state’s children receive the nutrition they need to grow and learn.”
P-EBT benefits will be issued for the 44-day period that schools were closed at the end of the 2019-2020 school year from March 17 through May 15. OKDHS estimates that it will issue $35.9 million to 80,158 SNAP households and $75.1 million to 231,863 non-SNAP households. These benefits are equivalent to the daily reimbursement for free breakfast and lunch in the state, or $5.70 as specified by the USDA, multiplied by the average number of days school was cancelled in the month for each eligible child in the household.
Using the above calculation, eligible families will receive $250.80 per eligible child. Each month’s issuance will be completed separately resulting in three separate deposits to be completed by Aug. 30, but all benefits will be received on the same card.
Families already receiving SNAP will receive the P-EBT benefits on their cards. Non-SNAP families will be issued EBT cards, which they will receive in the mail along with instructions on pinning the card, how to decline the benefit or return the card.
The NGA recently expressed its support for the Expanding SNAP Options Act of 2020. See story, here.