Feeding Kentucky, the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, the Kentucky Retail Federation and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services are joining together with partners across Kentucky to bring awareness to the newly launched Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) for childcare and Summer EBT.
Pandemic EBT for childcare is a grocery benefit for low-income families of young children whose daycare and preschool may have been disrupted by COVID-19. Families who received SNAP anytime between October 2020 through May 2021, have a child aged five or younger, and live in a school district that operated on a virtual or hybrid model between October and May qualify for benefits.
All families who have received P-EBT benefits since October will also receive Summer EBT. Summer EBT is a one-time grocery benefit that will reimburse families who receive free and reduced lunches for the extra cost of food they incurred during the summer, which is often considered the hungriest time of year for kids. Families can expect to see Summer EBT the week of August 23rd in the form of a one-time deposit of $375 onto an existing P-EBT or SNAP EBT card.
While this is the first time Kentucky will operate Summer EBT, the program has existed as a USDA pilot program for over ten years. In these pilots, just $30 a month in Summer EBT benefits was found to reduce childhood food insecurity by 30%.
“Pandemic EBT is important to families and children, so that they can get food [and] not go hungry; however, there’s another benefit: the benefit to all of our local communities,” said Eric Friedlander, Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. “Pandemic EBT goes to an individual, and then what happens? It supports the retailers in our local community.”
Secretary Friedlander also touched on the USDA’s recent announcement that SNAP benefits will permanently increase by approximately 25% per household a result of the USDA’s updated Thrifty Food Plan. “Again, this is tremendous for our families and it’s tremendous for our local retailers and communities,”said Friedlander.
“31% of Kentucky families are struggling to pay usual household expenses, like rent, groceries and medical bills,” said Jessica Klein, Policy Associate at the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. “Early analysis of Pandemic EBT shows it has reduced food hardship by 30% the week following disbursement.” To address summer hunger even after the pandemic is over, Congress should make Summer EBT permanent through the infrastructure bill or legislation like the American Families Plan and the Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act.
“Food banks and schools work extremely hard to keep Kentucky families fed, but they can’t do it alone,” said Katrina Thompson, Executive Director at Feeding Kentucky. “These benefits provide extra support for Kentucky families, so no child in Kentucky has to go to bed hungry.”
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services estimates that Pandemic EBT for childcare and Summer EBT will give Kentucky’s economy a boost of over $267,400,000.
“These benefits are like a circle,” said Steve McClain, Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the Kentucky Retail Federation. “Not only do these make sure families are fed, but they have a significant impact in the local community, providing jobs to Kentucky grocery store workers, farmers, and producers.”
Any Kentucky child who has received P-EBT benefits since October is eligible for Summer EBT. There is no income limit to participate in the program. P-EBT does not impact citizenship, immigration status or the now-ended public charge rule. Families can expect to see their Summer EBT deposit on either their existing SNAP EBT or P-EBT card the week of August 23rd. Families who lost or tossed their EBT or P-EBT card can call (888) 979-9949 to receive a new one.
The first two payments of Childcare P-EBT have already been deposited onto eligible families’ existing EBT cards and there is more to come biweekly until the week of September 11th.
For more information about requirements and qualifications, call the Department of Community Based Services hotline at 1-855-306-8959.
Karena Cash is Advocacy Coordinator for Feeding Kentucky.