A new facet of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or FoodShare, has been approved for the 2021-2022 school year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The School Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program will provide food benefits to families that receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or the School Breakfast Program (SBP). Benefits will now be provided when children, who participate in these programs, are not able to attend in-person school due to individual COVID-19 illness/quarantine or virtual learning has been enacted due to rising COVID-19 numbers.
The program originally was dependent only upon how the schools were learning as a whole (in-person, virtual) and did not provide considerations for individual circumstances. Now benefits will be provided for students who are learning from home or are absent due to a COVID-19-related reason.
“School P-EBT has provided critical support for families in need over the last two years. Although schools across Wisconsin are back in session, the pandemic still impacts students who are learning from home or who have to be absent because of COVID-19,” said Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “When those situations arise, these benefits will continue to provide much-needed economic and nutritional support to families that need help.”
For each eligible child, families will receive $7.10 for each day the child is absent from school because of COVID-19. If the families have an active QUEST (FoodShare) or P-EBT card from last year, benefits will be added directly to those cards. Families without these cards will be receiving a dedicated P-EBT card through the mail. These will function the same as the QUEST cards and can be used to purchase the same items allowed under FoodShare.
Beginning in January, schools that participate in the NSLP and/or SBP will begin entering individual student data into an online portal. This information will allow the state to distribute funds on an individual basis to those who are not in attendance at their in-person school, and therefore are unable to receive a free/reduced-price lunch on those days. These benefits will be sent out approximately every five weeks. (See schedule below.)
The P-EBT Program is operated through a joint partnership between the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Public Instruction. To learn more about the program, visit the DHS P-EBT webpage.
The Racine County Eye is keeping you informed with the latest COVID-19 pandemic information. Visit our dedicated Coronavirus section for important local news and information regarding the pandemic. Our COVID-19 Dashboard is updated daily with Racine County cases and deaths.