The Boston Public Schools (BPS), in conjunction with East Boston-based Project Bread, announced last week that all BPS and charter school students will receive the Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) food benefit that can be used to buy food from grocery stores while schools are closed.
According to BPS and Project Bread this will be added to SNAP cards for families who receive benefits, or a card will be mailed to others and there is no need to apply.
Under the new plan BPS and charter school households will receive $5.70 per eligible student per day, or $28.50 a week.
“If already receiving these benefits, your P-EBT benefits will be added to your existing EBT card,” said Project Bread President Erin McAleer in a statement. “If not actively receiving these benefits, you will receive a P-EBT card in the mail for each eligible student in your household.”
From the onset of the Covid-19 crisis Project Bread advocated at the state and federal level for Massachusetts to receive a waiver to operate a P-EBT program, a crisis response nutrition program that helps feed children in low-income households.
“The father who called our FoodSource Hotline last week was representative of thousands of households across the Commonwealth,” said McAleer. “Even as he has been able to continue working part-time, something for which he’s grateful, the money is not enough to cover the needs of his spouse and two children. This is especially so since the kids are no longer receiving the free school meals they had come to rely on even pre-coronavirus. As he told us, “It’s been tough these past weeks trying to make sure there’s enough to eat with everyone home.”
McAleer said while there are many ways the impact of COVID-19 has increased food insecurity in Massachusetts by a whopping 300 percent, school closures have significantly affected households that rely on free or reduced price meals to help feed children and make ends meet. Providing two nutritious meals every weekday not only helps these kids thrive, it allows money that would have been spent on food to go toward other necessities like rent or utilities.
Some other good news about P-EBT is that it is available to households regardless of immigration status so undocumented residents are able to receive the funds as long as they meet the general conditions for eligibility.
“We know we need big solutions to solve a crisis of this size, and P-EBT is a great example,” said McAleer. “We applaud our leaders here in Massachusetts and the Department of Transitional Assistance for taking action so more than 500,000 kids can buy food that will help keep them healthy during the crisis.”
If you have questions about P-EBT or other food resources, call Project Bread’s Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 or contact at [email protected]