On November 16, 2021, Ohio became one of the first three states in the country to receive federal approval to implement a Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program during the 2021-2022 school year. Thanks to strong planning and coordination between the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), and school districts across the state, Ohio can immediately issue P-EBT benefits to the 126,500 students with eligible P-EBT days so far this school year.
More than 1 million of Ohio children received P-EBT nutrition assistance during the 2020-2021school year
As Community Solutions has written about in the past (see here, here, and here), the P-EBT program was created by Congress at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure low-income children would not miss out on free and reduced-price school meals due to pandemic-related school closures or absences. Research from the Brookings Institution published in September 2021 found that the P-EBT program was very successful in reducing food hardship for families with children during the 2020-2021 school year.
The P-EBT program was created by Congress at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure low-income children would not miss out on free and reduced-price school meals due to pandemic-related school closures or absences.
Ohio has operated one of the country’s most successful pandemic EBT programs, delivering nutrition assistance to nearly 1.1 million children throughout the state in 2021. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Ohio found a way to issue benefits to eligible children earlier than most states, meaning families didn’t have to wait months to be reimbursed for meals missed at school due to remote learning or quarantines. Once again, Ohio is prepared to issue P-EBT benefits quickly to eligible children who missed school meals in August, September, and October due to remote learning or COVID-19 absences. After the initial issuance in late November, families can expect to receive P-EBT benefits the month after the missed school days. For example, a child required to quarantine for 10 days in November would receive 10 days’ worth of P-EBT benefits ($71) by the end of December.
Ohio P-EBT program increases daily benefit and staggers benefit issuance
For the 2021-2022 school year, all students in preschool through 12th grade who are certified for Free or Reduced-Price (F/RP) meals and attend a school that typically participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) are potentially eligible for P-EBT benefits, like last year. However, because nearly all schools in Ohio are operating in-person this school year, P-EBT benefits will only be issued to students who were:
(1) Enrolled in a remote learning program through a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program (i.e. not an online school), or
(2) Not at school for COVID-19-related reasons (e.g. COVID-19 exposure).
Other key details of Ohio’s P-EBT plan for the 2021-2022 school year include:
- The daily reimbursement rate is $7.10 (up from $6.82 during the 2020-2021 school year)
- P-EBT benefits will be issued on a new staggered schedule based on the child’s last name, rather than all P-EBT benefits being issued on the same day.
- P-EBT benefits will be issued to the child’s existing P-EBT card or household’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) card. New cards will only be sent to children who have never received a P-EBT benefit.
Note that unlike last year’s plan, Ohio’s 2021-2022 school year plan does not yet include children under age 6 who participate in SNAP (also called food stamps). Once Ohio receives additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on how to include these children, Ohio will request an amendment to the state’s approved plan.
P-EBT benefits can be utilized the same way as traditional SNAP or food stamp benefits, to make purchases on SNAP-eligible food items at many retailers and online.
P-EBT benefits can be utilized the same way as traditional SNAP or food stamp benefits, to make purchases on SNAP-eligible food items at many retailers and online. Any non-SNAP eligible items such as household products, pet food, alcohol and most prepared food will be separated from SNAP-eligible items automatically when using your P-EBT card.
Ohio P-EBT frequently asked questions, eligibility, and customer service
For those interested in diving deeper into P-EBT, check out the following resources:
- A complete list of Frequently Asked Questions about P-EBT can be found on the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ website.
- For additional details on how schools determine P-EBT eligible days for their students, check out the Ohio Department of Education’s Question and Answers for Schools.
- Community partners can find the latest P-EBT updates and outreach materials at ohiopebt.org.
- Parents or guardians with questions about an individual child’s P-EBT eligibility can contact the P-EBT customer service line at 866-244-0071, option 1.
All Ohioans can be proud of our state’s P-EBT program.
All Ohioans can be proud of our state’s P-EBT program, thanks to the public servants at ODJFS, ODE, and schools across the state who have worked tirelessly since the beginning of the pandemic to faithfully implement this critical nutrition program for Ohio’s children.
 In Summer 2021 alone, Ohio provided Summer P-EBT benefits to 873,057 school children and 220,310 children under age 6 and enrolled in SNAP (the only eligible group under age 6). See https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/resource-files/OH-PEBT-summer-plan-amendment.pdf