With just one month left to claim pandemic-era food benefits, the San Diego Hunger Coalition (SDHC) is urging eligible households in California to take advantage of the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program before the deadline passes.
This federal initiative was established to provide financial assistance for groceries while schools and childcare facilities were closed during the pandemic. Low-income households have until August 1 to request benefits, which are issued on an EBT card and can be used at grocery stores, farmers’ markets, or online retailers.
The P-EBT Program
The P-EBT program aims to support families of children who were eligible for free or reduced-price meals at schools or childcare centers. Two rounds of benefits were issued during the pandemic, with the second round, known as P-EBT 2.0, being distributed from October 2020 to August 2021. Eligible families can receive up to $1,192 per student on their EBT card to purchase essential groceries.
Unclaimed Funds and Outreach Efforts
According to the San Diego Hunger Coalition, all P-EBT cards were expected to be received by December 2021. However, it is estimated that approximately 32,500 eligible students in the county did not receive their cards, resulting in roughly $38.7 million in unused funds.
Recognizing the significance of these unclaimed benefits, the CEO of SDHC, Anahid Brakke, emphasized the importance of raising awareness and assisting families in recouping their missed P-EBT 2.0 benefits to combat summer hunger in 2023.
Households that believe they qualify for P-EBT 2.0 but did not receive a card in 2021 can call the state’s helpline at 800-887-8230 to have the card reissued. It is crucial to contact the helpline before the August 1 deadline to recover the benefits through the program.
When making the call, SDHC advises having the necessary information for each child, including their first and last name, date of birth, and the address where they resided at the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
SDHC emphasizes that receiving P-EBT benefits will not impact immigration status or make individuals a public charge. Furthermore, it will not affect other benefits already received or result in any repayment requirements. Families are encouraged to visit the SDHC website for more information on P-EBT food benefits.
A Crucial Opportunity
State Assemblymember David Alvarez highlighted the significance of ensuring children’s access to nutritious meals, particularly during the summer months when schools are closed.
He urged all eligible families to seize the opportunity provided by P-EBT benefits before the 24-day deadline elapses. Once the deadline passes, unclaimed funds will be lost, and the opportunity to alleviate food insecurity will be missed.
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