Low-income families with children across Ohio are receiving a much-needed boost in food assistance this summer, thanks to the continuation of the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program. In June 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved two plans by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to provide P-EBT benefits to eligible children between June and September 2022. The approved plans will provide an estimated $513 million in funds to supplement families’ food budgets at a time when food inflation and food insecurity are on the rise.
As I’ve written before, the Pandemic P-EBT program was created by Congress in 2020 to provide grocery benefits to school-age children who miss out on free or reduced-price meals at school during the federal public health emergency. Congress later extended the program to younger children (ages 0-5) who missed out on nutrition meals at child care sites. Ohio’s P-EBT program has been among the most successful in the country, thanks to strong partnerships between ODJFS, ODE and thousands of schools across Ohio that participate in the National School Lunch Program.
With USDA’s latest approval, P-EBT benefits will finally reach Ohio’s youngest and poorest children.
Children younger than school age finally get benefits
During the 2021-2022 school year, school-age children who missed school meals due to COVID-19 related absences received P-EBT benefits at a rate of $7.10 per day, typically the month after the absence occurred. With USDA’s latest approval, P-EBT benefits will finally reach Ohio’s youngest and poorest children – those under age 6 and enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – as well. Ohio is retroactively providing approximately $90 million in P-EBT benefits to approximately 210,000 children who receive SNAP, were under age 6 (as of August 1, 2021) and were not enrolled in school.
- Key details: P-EBT benefits for children who were eligible August 2021-February 2022 (worth up to $255.60) were deposited onto the family’s existing SNAP card at the end of June. P-EBT benefit for March-May 2022 have not yet been finalized, but are expected to be distributed monthly from July through September. Additional information is available at ohiopebt.org and https://jfs.ohio.gov/ofam/P-EBT-for-Children-Under-6-on-SNAP-School-Year-2021-2022–Question-and-Answers-Final.stm
Summer P-EBT will deliver over $423 million in nutrition assistance to eligible children in Ohio.
Standard Summer P-EBT benefit is $390.50 per child
USDA also recently approved Ohio’s P-EBT plan for Summer 2022, which is expected to have an even larger impact on child hunger. Like last summer, Ohio will be able to provide a Summer P-EBT benefit to all children eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. This includes children who did not receive P-EBT benefits during the 2021-2022 school year because they received all meals in person. Children under age 6 and enrolled in SNAP are also eligible for Summer P-EBT benefits. Taken together, Summer P-EBT will deliver over $423 million in nutrition assistance to eligible children in Ohio.
- Key details: The standard Summer P-EBT benefit is $390.50 per child. This benefit will be split into two issuances with eligible children receiving $191.70 by the end of June and a second issuance of $198.80 by the end of July. Additional information is available at ohiopebt.org and https://jfs.ohio.gov/ofam/Summer-2022-PEBT-Questions-and-Answers_.stm
What families can do to benefit this summer
Families with children who may be eligible but are not yet enrolled in free and reduced-price meals and/or SNAP benefits should apply as soon as possible. SNAP applications can be submitted at https://benefits.ohio.gov/. Free or reduced-price meal applications are available from all schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program. Free or reduced-price meal applications received by schools by July 31, 2022, and ultimately approved will qualify each newly eligible child for Summer P-EBT benefits. These benefits are scheduled to be issued by the end of September.