WASHINGTON, May 20, 2020 — Washington, D.C., has now been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service to issue Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) benefits to eligible students. Families across will now have the opportunity to receive additional public benefits to purchase food for school-aged children who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to COVID-19-related school closures.
The P-EBT program provides nutritional resources to families who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to fallout from COVID-19. The approval will provide an estimated $26 million in federal food assistance to support more than 68,000 children in the District of Columbia.
“D.C. has made progress in increasing children’s access to healthy foods, but we still have a long way to go,” said Beverley R. Wheeler, director, D.C. Hunger Solutions. “Residents must take full advantage of all the available nutrition programs so every child across the District has access to the nutrition they need to thrive during this crisis.”
The struggle to afford enough food is almost twice as high in households with children in the District than households without children, 21.2 percent compared to 11 percent. Despite an improving economy, far too many children in the nation’s capital still live in households that are food insecure.
Households with children in Pre-Kindergarten to twelfth grade that already receiving free school meals at D.C. Public Schools or public charter schools are eligible for P-EBT. This includes income-eligible families who have submitted a Free and Reduced-priced Meals (FARM) application, families receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds, and all families with students attending a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school. For families receiving SNAP and TANF, benefits will automatically be uploaded onto their EBT card. Families that do not currently have an EBT card will be mailed one. For further assistance, they can contact the D.C. Department of Human Services P-EBT Call Center at (202) 868-6663, Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.
COVID-19 has led to unprecedented changes to the everyday lives of D.C. residents. Stay-at-home orders have been issued to help slow the spread of the virus, but they have also deeply limited children’s access to food with ongoing school closures. The P-EBT program will ensure D.C. residents who are most vulnerable and have the most need, gain access to healthy food as school closures continue.
D.C. Hunger Solutions, an initiative of the Food Research & Action Center, works to end hunger in the nation’s capital and improve the nutrition, health, economic security, and well-being of low-income District residents.