Department of Education, Human Services partner with schools to help offset higher grocery costs for low-income students
Amy Webb, Chief of Communications
Gavin Lesnick, Deputy Chief of Communications
(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) and Department of Human Services (DHS) announced today that the State has gotten federal approval to provide additional financial assistance to students who usually get free and reduced school meals but didn’t in 2020-21 because of school closures or remote learning.
The financial assistance is through a program called Pandemic EBT (P-EBT). This will be the second time Arkansas has participated in this program. In the summer of 2020, DHS issued P-EBT benefits to eligible students to help replace the cost of meals incurred when the State closed schools from mid-March through May 2020.
“This round of P-EBT is quite different than the previous round because every school experienced the pandemic a bit differently once they re-opened,” said Mary Franklin, DHS Division of County Operations Director. “But the goal of the program is the same – to help families of eligible students who may be struggling to cover the cost of food for their children.
Unlike the last P-EBT benefit, the second round of benefits will only be given to eligible students of schools that reported closures or virtual learning days due to COVID-19 concerns. Children aged 6 and under who attended childcare and who were a part of an active SNAP case between October 2020 and May 2021 are also eligible. Benefit amounts will be based on the number of days a school was closed/virtual learning days and will vary by child. That means students in the same family could receive different benefit amounts if they were in different school buildings or classrooms.
Families do not need to take any action to get P-EBT. Eligibility is based on records provided by school districts. Families are, however, encouraged to confirm or update their personal information with their child’s school district including their child’s date of birth and mailing address. Families also are encouraged to add their student’s name to their mailing list with their local post office to avoid issues getting mailed EBT cards
Benefits will be issued retroactively in four payments for meals missed during the 2020-2021 school closures due to COVID-19 concerns or virtual learning days. The first payments are expected to go out by July 31.
If the student’s family has an active SNAP case, benefits will be issued to the family’s EBT card, unless the address DHS has on file is different than the address the school has on file. In that case, a new P-EBT card will be issued to the family by mail.
If the family does not have a current SNAP case, a new P-EBT card will be issued to the family by mail in the student’s name. The card will come in a plain white envelope addressed to the student. Families should keep the new P-EBT card until all benefits have been issued.
Eligible families who did not receive the benefit for the 2019 -2020 school year should send an email to email@example.com making sure to include their name and contact information, the name and DOB for each eligible child who did not get the benefit, the school district they attended last spring when schools closed, and their current mailing address.