Pandemic-EBT Benefits Distributed to Remaining NYC Public School Families this Month as Half of Students Face Hunger

09.04.2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                   

CONTACT:

Nicole Aber, 646-627-7741

Naber@hungerfreeamerica.org          

Pandemic-EBT Benefits to be Distributed to All NYC Families This Month

 

With Half of NYC Public School Children Facing Hunger, “P-EBT Meeting a Critical Need”

 

Families Who Do Not Receive Benefits by Sept. 15th Should Contact OTDA P-EBT Helpline
 
Advocates Urge Low-Income and Middle-Class Families to Use Benefits and Encourage Well-Off Families to “Pay it Forward” by Donating Equivalent Funds to Local Nonprofits

This month, the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance will finish mailing Pandemic-EBT cards to all families with children who attend New York City public schools. The funds, which equate to $420 per child, are designed to cover the cost of meals that students would have received at school if not for school closures due to Covid-19 last spring. Families who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits or Medicaid should have received their benefits over the last three months, while families not participating in either program will be receiving an EBT card over the next few weeks. Families that do not receive anything from OTDA by September 15th  should call the OTDA P-EBT helpline at 833-452-0096.

Families can use these funds at most supermarkets, corner stores, bodegas, and farmers markets. The federally-funded Pandemic-EBT program will be providing a total of at least $400 million in food assistance to NYC public school families at a time when half of these families reported reducing meal size or frequency for their kids, according to a new poll by The Education Trust-NYC.

Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a nationwide direct service and advocacy organization based in New York City, said: “The P-EBT program has met a critical need over the last few months by lifting millions of children out of hunger. The program allows middle-income and immigrant families who may not qualify for SNAP benefits to receive sufficient funds to feed their kids while the economic fallout of the pandemic continues. Hunger Free NYC has conducted widespread outreach this summer so that all families dealing with financial hardship during this time feel comfortable using these benefits, even if they have never used public benefits before. We urge a wide swatch of New York City families — including all middle-class ones — to access and utilize these benefits.”

Because NYC Public Schools have universal free school meals, all families with school-aged children who attend public schools — as well as those who attend charter and parochial schools that participate in the federal school meals program — will receive these benefits. The distribution of the benefits was divided into three cohorts:

  1. Families that have an existing EBT card: Benefits were distributed to families’ existing EBT cards over the last few months.
  2. Families that have Medicaid but not SNAP: Benefits were distributed to existing Medicaid Common Benefit Identification Cards (CBIC).
  3. Families that do not currently receive public benefits: During September, an EBT card and instruction letter will be issued and mailed to each household and will contain a one-time payment of $420 per child. This cohort also includes 3-4 year-old children eligible for P-EBT as well as eligible students ages 19-21.

If families in any cohort have questions about their benefits, they can call the OTDA P-EBT helpline at 833-452-0096 for help with their specific case. Barring an extension of the Pandemic-EBT program at the federal level, the benefits program will only run through September 30th.

Continued Berg: “Some have asked if they are well-off, can they give their cards away to others they feel may need it more. No, they can’t, since that would likely be illegal. We don’t even encourage people to donate their food, since it would likely cost food banks or food pantries more money and effort to utilize the food than the value of the food. Thus, for households that may be on strong financial footing, we encourage them to support local businesses and farmers markets by utilizing their P-EBT benefits, and then to donate the equivalent amount of funds to nonprofit organizations so that we can continue assisting those struggling with hunger.”

Anyone can make a tax-deductible donation to Hunger Free New York City, a division of Hunger Free America, here: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/hunger-free-america/donate-to-hunger-free-nyc

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