Your Questions About P-EBT Answered
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 4, 2023
Anna Korsen, Policy & Program Director
Full Plates Full Potential
Your Questions About P-EBT Answered
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding P-EBT (Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer)
Why did I receive a P-EBT card in the mail? I don’t think my family qualifies for this benefit.
Your child has received a P-EBT card because the school they attend is participating in one of two federal programs to help maximize federally funded free school meals and reduce the need for families to share their household income every school year. These programs are called Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) or Provision II*. Many schools in Maine have recently switched to operating through CEP or Provision II which is why your child may be receiving this benefit for the first time. If you do not wish to use P-EBT you can simply cut up and discard the card. Unused funds are automatically returned to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
What is P-EBT?
P-EBT (Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer) is a federal program administered by the state which provides additional nutrition support for households with children to replace or supplement school breakfast and lunch missed due to Covid and during the summer. The P-EBT benefits for last school year and this past summer have recently been issued to most children in Maine. The Department issued P-EBT cards to eligible families consistent with federal guidelines using federal funding with average benefit per month ranging from $40 to $120 per child, per month. This month’s benefits issuance marks the final round of P-EBT payments, and families that received cards are encouraged to use these federally funded benefits to provide additional nutritious foods for their households. Families who do not wish to use the cards can cut up and discard them. Unused benefits will be automatically returned to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in nine months.
When will I receive my child’s P-EBT?
Families that receive SNAP or that already have a P-EBT card received benefits in September. P-EBT cards for new participants were mailed in September.
What is P-EBT? Why is this happening?
More families have received this latest and last round of P-EBT due to more schools participating in Community Eligibility Provision and Provision II, federal programs that help schools maximize federally funded free school meals and reduce the need for households to share their income with schools every year. In a state with the highest rate of childhood food insecurity in New England, and during a time when child poverty has doubled, P-EBT is an important resource for many Maine families.
40% of food insecure households in Maine are ineligible for nutrition assistance like SNAP. “The federal poverty guidelines are outdated and don’t reflect the actual need in our communities. Many families are experiencing food insecurity but don’t qualify for federal assistance..” said Anna Korsen, policy and program director with Full Plates. “Determining eligibility for P-EBT based on whether a child is eligible for SNAP or free school meals would have meant that many children would have missed out on this critical benefit in a time when hunger is again on the rise. Instead of criticizing this broad issuance of benefits, we should be sharing a collective sigh of relief that so many families have just received extra help with groceries. Only 5.8% of households in Maine have high income, and any family that doesn’t need or want the benefit doesn’t need to use it.”
This month’s benefits issuance marks the final round of P-EBT payments to eligible families and includes the Summer P-EBT benefit. Families that received cards are encouraged to use these federally funded benefits to provide additional nutritious foods for their households. Families who do not wish to use the cards can discard them and those unused benefits will be returned to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.