P-EBT Comes to an End for Eastie Families

To address the fallout from the pandemic and economic downturn that increased unemployment and food insecurity locally the feds and the state extended the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program that was launched at the height of the pandemic. 

P-EBT is a federal program that is jointly administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). P-EBT promotes increased food security for East Boston families whose children receive free or reduced-price school meals through the United States Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program (NSLP). During the COVID-19 pandemic the program covered the cost of school meals for students in remote or hybrid learning environments . 

The recent American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 allowed states to continue providing P-EBT for families through summer 2021.

All Eastie students who received P-EBT during the height of the pandemic received a total of $375 in P-EBT benefits in two equal payments of $187.50 over the summer.

However, Eastie families may have noticed that no additional funds were added to their P-EBT cards last month. 

DTA is now reminding parents and students that the program has expired. 

“Universal free school meals are available for all students this year,”  said DTA in a statement. “P-EBT was created to replace meals during COVID while schools were closed to in-person learning. Based on federal rules, students attending school in-person are not eligible for P-EBT.EBT/SNAP benefits.”

The last payments to students was made on August 25 and once school began the program was ended. 

The widely successful P-EBT brought more than $280 million into the Commonwealth’s economy this summer, providing nearly $250 million for more than 600,000 school-aged children and $33 million for approximately 88,000 SNAP-enrolled children under the age of six.

Massachusetts initially launched its P-EBT program in April 2020 when schools closed due to COVID-19, was one of a few states to receive federal approval for September P-EBT benefits and was the first state in the nation to receive approval to continue P-EBT through the 2020-2021 school year. 

In March 2021, the program was extended to provide P-EBT benefits for children in child care.  

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