Press Release Pandemic-EBT 1.0 Extended Benefits
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 24, 2020
Bilen Mesfin Packwood, , 510-681-5978
More Pandemic-EBT Benefits Are On the Way For California Students, Just In Time For Thanksgiving.
(Oakland, CA) — Just in time for the holidays, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) is mailing new Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) benefit cards for the months of August and September to eligible families. The benefit cards will be mailed until the end of the year. P-EBT is a federal program that provides food benefits for children who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals and whose schools closed due to COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible families do not need to apply to receive this extended benefit. Families can use benefit cards like a debit card and they can be used to buy food at grocery stores and farmers markets. If families need help with PIN set up, to request a replacement card or to change their mailing address, they may contact the P-EBT Hotline at 877-328-9677.
“For families who are struggling with food insecurity, the holidays can be a stressful time. Many families have been finding it very hard to provide food for their children and the fear that this Thanksgiving will be a somber one is very real to many” said Betzabel Estudillo, Senior Advocate at Nourish California. These additional P-EBT benefits couldn't come at a better time, providing a lifeline to families who will receive a card just in time for Thanksgiving.”
This is the second round of P-EBT benefits provided for the months of August and September. P-EBT was implemented in California in Spring 2020 as part of a federal COVID-19 relief program. CDSS reported that as of September 17, 2020, they issued P-EBT benefits to 3,738,746 children with more than $1.3 billion benefits provided.
“Parents told us the P-EBT program lifted a great weight from their shoulders,” said Anahid Brakke, CEO of San Diego Hunger Coalition. “Round 1 of P-EBT provided more than $93M in grocery money directly to the families of nearly 256,000 children in San Diego County. We are ecstatic P-EBT has been extended, as so many households continue to struggle with lost income.”
The COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacts working families, particularly Black and Latinx communities, with food insecurity rates rising as unemployment benefits and stimulus payments are running out. Families with children under 19 report higher rates of food insecurity than those without children. In addition, California has the nation’s highest rate of child poverty and more than 3.8 million children in the state qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. P-EBT is critical to many families who have struggled with food insecurity during this pandemic.
“As an organization who has been focused on Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) outreach and education, in partnership with parent leaders, we are happy to learn that P-EBT benefits have been extended,” said Lyzzeth Mendoza, Policy Manager at the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice. “This benefit is being put directly in the hands of millions of families as we approach a national holiday when many families gather to give thanks as they ‘break bread’. For families in the Inland Empire this benefit has been a huge blessing, parents feel grateful for this support as they hear this is not a one time benefit during this pandemic.”
The P-EBT program was first enacted through the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act to help nourish students while schools are closed in order to mitigate the spread of COVID 19. In September, California was approved to provide extended P-EBT benefits for August and September to children who previously received P-EBT benefits in the 2019-2020 school year. While these extended benefits are provided, the implementation of the second round of P-EBT “P-EBT 2.0” remains pending. The Continuing Resolution (H.R. 8377) expanded P-EBT benefits through the 2020-2021 school year and extended benefits to eligible children in child care. The California Department of Social Services and California Department of Education are awaiting full federal guidance from USDA to submit an approvable plan as soon as possible.
About Nourish California: Founded in 1992 and operating for over a quarter century as California Food Policy Advocates, Nourish California is a nonpartisan, statewide nonprofit that shapes the programs and policies that should connect—but sometimes stand between—people and the food they need to thrive. Learn more at www.nourishca.org