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Local families receiving $375 P-EBT cards

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

Local families are now receiving $375 EBT cards for the Summer Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program. The cards will be automatically sent (or funds added to existing cards) for those who are eligible. Households who already receive SNAP benefits will see the additional amount on their existing EBT cards, households who received P-EBT for the 2020-21 school year will receive existing benefits on their existing P-EBT card, and households that do not have an EBT or P-EBT card will receive a card in the mail.

The State of Florida began a staggered disbursement on November 24, 2021 of the benefit, which is retroactive for Summer 2021. Families will receive $375 for each child that is eligible for the benefits, and it is estimated that 1.2 million children in Florida will receive the benefit. To date, 30,944 eligible students and children in Alachua County have received Summer P-EBT benefits.

The program is intended to pay for nutrition benefits for families that normally get free or reduced-price meals and did not have access to those meals for some period of time. Students qualify for the P-EBT benefit if their school qualifies for the Community Eligibility Provision, which allows schools that predominantly serve low-income children to offer free, nutritious school meals to all students. 45 schools in Alachua County qualify under the Community Eligibility Provision.

The benefits were originally intended to compensate families for each school day that the child was enrolled in distance learning and did not have access to free or reduced-price meals, but although the Alachua County Public School district continuously provided meals, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 extended P-EBT to any “‘covered summer period’ that followed a school year during which there was a public health emergency designation based on an outbreak of SARS-CoV-2.”

Thus, schools that participated in the National School Lunch Program were “deemed closed for purposes of P-EBT during the covered summer period [Summer of 2021].” The standard benefit is $375 per eligible child (55 days at $6.82 per day, covering the weekdays during the summer).

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According to the Florida Department of Children & Families, if people believe they received their EBT card in error, they can dispose of the card. P-EBT cards should only be used by who should have received them. P-EBT benefits are loaded onto Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards and mailed to the address on file. If recipients have questions regarding their P-EBT benefit, they should call 1-833-311-0321.