(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) and Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) announced today that the state has received federal approval to provide food benefits for the summer months to eligible children.
Children qualify for this temporary nutrition benefit, known as Summer Pandemic EBT (P-EBT), if they receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year, or if they are under age six and live in a household receiving SNAP benefits. The benefits are loaded onto a debit-type card that can be used to purchase food. Families of eligible children typically receive $391 per child for the summer.
“It’s important that families are able to feed children healthy and nutritious meals all year long, even when schools are out of session,” said Mary Franklin, Director of the DHS Division of County Operations. “This Summer P-EBT benefit will provide resources to ensure that eligible families are able to cover costs involved with providing these meals.”
Students who are not approved eligible for free or reduced meal benefits may submit a 2021-22 meal application to their school district by July 29, 2022, and if approved for free and reduced meals, the student will only be eligible for the Summer P-EBT benefit. Becoming eligible for summer benefits does not retroactively approve a student for the School-Year P-EBT benefit, which is described below.
Everyone who qualifies for P-EBT will receive a new card issued to the family by mail in the student’s name. The cards will be mailed in a plain white envelope addressed to the student. For school-age children, the card will come to the address submitted to ADE’s Division of Elementary and Secondary Education by the local school district. For younger children who live in a household receiving SNAP benefits, it will go to the address DHS has on file. Families should keep the new P-EBT card until all benefits have been issued.
The Summer P-EBT benefit is in addition to the School-Year P-EBT benefit for the 2021-2022 academic year, which has also received federal approval. School-Year P-EBT works differently than Summer P-EBT and requires parents of students who qualify for free-or-reduced meals who also missed attending school in-person due to COVID-19 to complete the Arkansas Parent Initiative P-EBT application by July 29, 2022.
Parents should contact the school district the student attended in School Year 2021-22 to find out the district’s process to apply for the benefit, as processes will vary by district. The approved application will be submitted to the child’s school district. To ensure all free-or-reduced eligible students would qualify for P-EBT benefits, USDA approved Arkansas’ request to use USDA’s reduced attendance policy – when a single enrolled child in a school misses five days due to COVID.
The School-Year P-EBT benefit amount is $7.10 per day of missed in-person instruction due to COVID-19.
Children under the age of 6 at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year who were also part of a household that receives SNAP benefits are also eligible for School-Year P-EBT. No application is required for this benefit, with the amount determined based on the number of months the child was part of a SNAP-enrolled household.
For additional information, please visit ar.gov/pebt.