In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a stay at home order. Residents are to leave their homes only to engage in essential activities. Check out the D.C.’s coronavirus page and see below for updates on the changes city agencies and organizations are making to their regular operations to mitigate the spread of the virus. Information is subject to change.
If you are homebound due to COVID-19, please call 1-888-349-8323 or visit gethelp.dc.gov to submit a request to have food and other essential items delivered to your home.
For local updates on COVID-19 related policy changes and guidance related to food assistance programs, refer to our COVID-19 Policy Updates page
We will be updating information on food resources in the District of Columbia. For federal updates, please refer to the Food Research & Action Center’s coronavirus page.
Accessing Healthy Food During COVID-19: A Webinar on Federal and Local Food Programs for Families & Children
On May 13, 2020 D.C. Hunger Solutions hosted a webinar for partners serving District families. Accessing Healthy Food During COVID-19: A Webinar on Federal and Local Food Programs for Families & Children covered available food resources and programs for District families with children during this public health crisis. We discussed recent changes to government food programs including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the new Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program for families with children who rely on school meals. Speakers from DC WIC, DC Dept. of Human Service, and DC Food Policy Council highlighted recent expansions of these programs and gave tips for how providers can assist families in the program application process.
Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) is a new program which provides benefits to purchase foods to families who have lost access to free school meals due to COVID-19 related school closures. Benefits are retroactive to when schools initially closed. P-EBT is a federal program and is administered locally by the D.C. Department of Human Services (DHS).
All households with students in pre-kindergarten to twelfth grade receiving free school meals at D.C. Public Schools and 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 SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) or TANF (cash assistance), and all families with students attending a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school. If someone in your household recently lost a job or wages, you might be newly eligible for P-EBT. Please apply for SNAP benefits or contact your school to complete a FARM application.
U.S. citizenship is not a requirement for P-EBT eligibility. Participation in P-EBT is not considered in a Public Charge test. Non-U.S. citizen students and mixed citizenship households residing in the District of Columbia are encouraged to apply for and use P-EBT benefits.
Questions on the program or unsure if you are already enrolled? Contact the DHS P-EBT Call Center at (202) 868-6663, Monday-Friday from 7:30am-4:45pm.
Federal Relief Payments
The federal COVID-19 stimulus package provides one-time payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child in cash for individual filers making less than $75,000 per year and joint filers making less than $150,000 per year (with lower payments to those making higher amounts up to a threshold). These payments are automatic for those that filed tax returns in 2018 or 2019, with no further action needed. If an individual did not file a return, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) launched a registration process for non-filers to receive stimulus checks. They must use the IRS web tool by visiting this website and submit all required information in order to be eligible for stimulus payments. Find additional information here.
Residents who receive SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, Alliance, and other public benefits provided by DHS do not need to take any action at this time to continue receiving benefits that would otherwise expire on March 31 or April 30. Those benefits will be automatically extended.
Information on applying for SNAP:
Economic Security Administration (ESA) Service Centers
For new applications for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, Alliance, or other public benefits, you can now apply online at https://dcbenefits.dhs.dc.gov/. For other information about benefits, please visit dhs.dc.gov.
To help enforce social distancing, the following DHS Service Centers are open only for picking up and dropping off public benefits applications and documents: Taylor Street, H Street, and Congress Heights. The Fort Davis and Anacostia Service Centers are closed. All applications and documents must be placed in an envelope provided at the Service Center. Applicants must write their full name and phone number on the front of the envelope prior to placing it in application drop boxes located in the Service Center lobby.
Beginning April 20, 2020, EBT cards will be mailed to participants who need them. Due to this new service, the Good Hope Road EBT Service Center (1649 Good Hope Rd, SE) will be closed, and the H Street EBT Service Center (611 H Street, NE) will be open with modified hours: Monday & Friday 7:30-4:45, Wednesday 7:30-noon. If you need to update your address with DHS, call 202-727-5355. If you need to replace your card, call 888-304-9167.
In most cases, an interview is not required during the COVID-19 State of Emergency. New applicants may be contacted by a DHS representative by phone if additional information is needed to complete application processing.
Residents currently receiving SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, Alliance, or other public benefits do not need to take any action at this time to continue receiving existing benefits that would otherwise expire on March 31 or April 30, even if they have received a letter saying it’s time to recertify. Those benefits will be automatically extended.
Residents with questions about their benefits should contact the Call Center at (202) 727-5355 from 7:30 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. Phone lines will be busy. Applications and verification documents can be emailed to D.C. Hunger Solutions at email@example.com.
WIC provides food benefits, nutrition counseling, breastfeeding support, and healthcare referrals to pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children up to five years of age. DC WIC has received waivers that will allow the program to get benefits out to participants as quickly and safely as possible.
DC WIC sites are providing all services, including certifications, nutrition education, and breastfeeding support over the phone. All WIC checks will be mailed to participants’ homes. If you are currently on WIC, please call your local WIC agency to update your mailing address and visit dcwic.org for updates related to COVID-19 and download the expanded foods list. If you think you might be eligible for WIC, use USDA’s prescreening tool or call your local WIC agency.
More information for new and current WIC participants can be found in the below FAQ document. Please download and share.
All senior centers and senior meal sites are currently closed and home delivered meals are being provided instead. To receive meals, call the Department of Aging and Community Living’s hotline at (202) 724-5626. The call center will conduct a quick assessment and connect you to the appropriate service.
Schools – D.C. Public Schools and Public Charter Schools
All D.C. Public Schools will remain closed and students will participate in distance learning through the end of the school year on May 29. Public charter schools are also encouraged to close through the end of the school year. Meals will be available for all youth 18 and under every weekday from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at select sites. at select sites. Children DO NOT need to be DCPS students in order to receive meals. No ID or prior sign-up is required. Meals will be provided to-go in order to encourage social distancing. More information can be found here. Pre-packed groceries are available at ten DCPS meal sites from 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. every weekday. Groceries are distributed on a first come, first serve basis.
Along with DCPS, many public charter schools will also be offering meals to students. Children do not need to be enrolled in the charter school to receive meals. More information can be found here.
DC Food Policy Council
The D.C. Food Policy Council’s website has information and a map of food assistance resources in the District and DMV region. You can also find updates on local food policy related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Capital Area Food Bank
The food bank’s After School Meals program, which normally provides children with a hot supper on site, will instead provide a to-go meal that can be quickly picked up and eaten at home. At the food bank’s in-school market programs, which ordinarily allows parents and children to choose from among different foods in a free school-based market setting, food will instead be provided in a bagged or boxed set of shelf stable items to allow for social distancing at the point of pickup. And the bags of food that are usually sent home with kids through the food bank’s Weekend Bag program will double in quantity to reduce trips to program locations. More information and additional resources can be found on the Capital Area Food Bank’s website.
D.C. Food Project
The D.C. Food Project website has information on emergency food access for families, including information about schools, food sites, and how to help in your community.