Pandemic-EBT Program to Bring $400 Million in Food Dollars to Families of About 1 Million Children in NYC

06.04.2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                             

CONTACT:

Nicole Aber, 646-627-7741

Naber@hungerfreeamerica.org          

 

With More than 1/3 of NYC Kids Facing Hunger, “P-EBT Meeting a Critical Need”

 

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

Advocates Also Note it is Illegal to Sell or Give Away EBT Card to Others
 

Starting this month, families with children in New York City will start to receive Pandemic-EBT benefits, totaling at least $400 million in food assistance. 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 during COVID-19. Families can use these funds at most supermarkets, corner stores, bodegas, and farmers markets.

Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a nationwide direct service and advocacy organization based in New York City, said: “The P-EBT program will help meet the critical need to ensure that more parents are able to better afford food for their children while schools are closed. Though the City and the Department of Education are working tirelessly to continue to provide school meals for pickup, they are only reaching a small percentage of children, so these additional Pandemic-EBT benefits will be a game-changer by providing NYC families with much-needed funds for food.”

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 timing and method by which the benefits will be distributed will vary according to the following situations:

  1. Families that have an existing EBT card: These households will receive two payments. The first payment of $193 per child will be received be early June and will be added to existing EBT cards. The second payment of $227 per child will be received via existing EBT cards by the end of June.
  2. Families that have Medicaid but not SNAP: One payment of $420 per child will be added to existing Medicaid Common Benefit Identification Cards (CBIC) at the end of June.
  3. Families that do not currently receive public benefits: From early July through August, a card will be issued and mailed to each household and will contain a one-time payment of $420 per child.

It is illegal to sell the cards to other families, and it is likely also illegal to even give the cards away to others not in your household.

Berg also said: “It’s important to note that, unlike in many other states, New York State has made this program extremely easy for families to access, as households do not have to apply for P-EBT and will be automatically enrolled. This program will allow middle-income and immigrant families who may not qualify for SNAP benefits to receive sufficient funds to feed their kids while dealing with the economic fallout of the pandemic. We are conducting widespread outreach 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.”

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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