Commonwealth Receives $224 Million in Food Assistance for Pennsylvania Families with Young Children

Meals to ChildrenImage by Jill Wellington

HARRISBURG, PA – The Wolf Administration has received approval from the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to extend Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefit eligibility to families of Pennsylvania SNAP-eligible children who are child care aged. This federally-funded program helps families cover the cost of breakfasts and lunches for their children and is designed to bridge the gap left by child care centers closing and to help families who may have strained resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn has stretched thousands of families to a breaking point, so we are incredibly grateful that the USDA will allow us to provide some relief and offer more food security to SNAP families with children who are child care aged,” said DHS Acting Secretary Meg Snead. “Going without essential needs like food can jeopardize children’s health and development in both the short and long term, so P-EBT will help families make ends meet. We are committed to rolling out this P-EBT program as quickly as possible.”

Children are eligible for benefits under P-EBT’s child care component if:

  • The child is a member of a household that received SNAP benefits at any time since October 1, 2020,
  • The child is age 5 or younger, and
  • At least one school in the county where the family resides or any contiguous county is determined to be operating on either a virtual schedule, where children complete all learning through online learning, or a blended schedule, where the students attend some days in person and some days virtually.
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Benefits will be available to cover eligible children in SNAP during the period of October 1, 2020, through May 31, 2021. Pennsylvania will distribute more than $30 million per month to the families of about 223,000 children – for a total distribution of about $224 million. The benefit level will vary depending upon the county of residence. Children residing in counties or neighboring a county where schools are operating 100 percent virtually will receive 100 percent of the benefit, while children in counties that are operating in a hybrid format will receive 65 percent of the benefit level. These levels will be re-evaluated throughout the summer. Full P-EBT benefits are equal to $6.82 per day that the child is eligible for P-EBT — $2.26 for breakfast, $0.96 for a snack and $3.60 for lunch.

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Pennsylvania will distribute benefits to eligible families in three phases, as follows:

  • The first round of benefits will be distributed two weeks following the distribution of P-EBT for K-12 students, in late May.
  • The second round of benefits will be distributed in late June.
  • The third round of benefits will be distributed in early August.

No application is necessary to receive the benefit, and the benefit will be received on the household’s regular EBT card. All eligible families will also receive a letter directly from DHS. If a child qualifies under both the P-EBT for School Children process and the P-EBT for Child Care Age Children process, the child will only receive the benefit determined under the P-EBT for School Children.

Applications for SNAP and other public assistance programs can be requested and submitted online at www.compass.state.pa.us or over the phone by calling 1-866-550-4355. Those who prefer to submit a paper application can print from the website, pick one up at a County Assistance Office (CAO), or request an application by phone at 1-800-692-7462 and mail it to their local CAO or place it in a CAO’s secure dropbox, if available. You do not need to know your own eligibility in order to apply. While CAOs remain closed, the work of processing applications, determining eligibility, and issuing benefits continues. Clients should use COMPASS or the MyCOMPASS PA mobile app to submit necessary updates to their case files while CAOs are closed to the public.

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For more information about food assistance resources for people around Pennsylvania impacted by COVID-19 and the accompanying economic insecurity, visit the Department of Agriculture’s food security guide.

For more information on public assistance programs, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.

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