Oklahoma families to begin receiving pandemic-related food benefits

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Trays of food at a school cafeteria. (KOIN)

Trays of food at a school cafeteria. (KOIN)

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Beginning this week, millions of dollars in federal aid will be sent to Oklahoma families in need.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services will begin delivering millions of dollars in federal aid directly to families across the state this week.

The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program provides food benefits for families with school-aged children who qualified for but did not receive free or reduced-price school meals due to virtual learning throughout the school year.

Officials say benefits will be sent to hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans by Oct. 15.

Families with eligible students will receive new P-EBT cards in the mail. The cards can then be used to purchase groceries at authorized retail food stores and farmers’ markets.

“P-EBT has been a critical program to address childhood hunger as a result of COVID-19,” said Secretary for Human Services and OKDHS Director Justin Brown. “We share a commitment with the State Department of Education to support Oklahoma children and families who may face increased food insecurity due to the pandemic. We are here to offer resources and are grateful to the many partners who continue to raise their hands in service to others.”

Officials with DHS said it used a collaborative data-sharing agreement with the Oklahoma State Department of Education to ensure that the eligible households would automatically receive those benefits.

“Children need access to healthy food to ensure they thrive. That need doesn’t go away when they are learning virtually,” said Deb Smith, Director of OKDHS Adult and Family Services. “The P-EBT program is designed to ensure that children and families have access to the nutrition they need to be successful. This program will benefit hundreds of thousands of our state’s most precious citizens, our children.”

The benefits for the 2020-2021 school year are equivalent to $6.82 per day for school days from Aug. 2020 through May 2021. Days in which the student received in-person instruction or was counted absent from virtual instruction do not count toward benefits.

P-EBT benefit amounts are individualized to each student, as determined by the attendance and number of days in distance learning, and children in the same household may have varied benefit amounts.

Each month’s benefits will be issued in staggered payments resulting in 10 separate deposits by Oct. 15. Instructions for checking card balance and deposits, along with other information, will be included in the envelope with the P-EBT card. Each child will receive a separate card.

Families who believe their children are eligible but have not received their P-EBT card(s) by Oct. 15 may visit this website or call (405) 522-5050 for assistance.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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