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Washington State News

Pandemic Food Assistance on its Way for Washington Children

OLYMPIA — Many families in Washington state will soon have another round of food assistance available to them to help buy groceries while children are home during the summer.

Called Pandemic EBT, or P-EBT, these food benefits are available to families with young children who are eligible for Basic Food benefits as well as school-aged children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meal programs. P-EBT benefits can be used to shop at any grocery store, farmers’ market, or food retailer that accepts EBT card payments. The Public Charge rule does not apply to P-EBT benefits and will not impact immigration status.

The Department of Social and Health Services recently received federal approval to implement a third round of P-EBT, which includes benefits for children under age 6 and for school-aged children for summer 2022. Families will start to receive these benefits beginning in late July and through the end of the summer.

The first and second rounds of P-EBT benefits helped provide food security for more than 400,000 Washington children in the past two years. According to June census data, nearly one in 10 Washington households reported not having enough food for their household in the last seven days. With inflation rapidly increasing the cost of food, gas, and other basic needs, eligible families will receive valuable assistance that can go a long way to help relieve hunger this summer.

The Children Under 6 and Summer 2022 P-EBT programs will be available as follows:

· P-EBT Children Under 6 program: Qualifying children under age 6 who live in a household that receives Basic Food benefits (the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Washington state’s Food Assistance Program) may receive $43 for each month they received Basic Food assistance from September 2021 — June 2022.

· Summer 2022 P-EBT program: Qualifying children under age 6 as well as school-aged children will receive a one-time lump sum of $391 per child to cover the summer period through July and August 2022. School-aged children enrolled in Washington state public K-12 schools through June 2022 who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals are eligible for Summer 2022 P-EBT benefits. Children under age 6 will receive benefits under this plan as long as they receive Basic Food assistance during July and August.

Both these benefits programs are separate from a P-EBT 2021–22 School Year program, which has not been approved by USDA at this time.

To ensure all eligible children receive P-EBT benefits, families must complete the free and reduced-price meal program application through their school district, or apply and be approved for Basic Food assistance by Aug. 31, 2022.

P-EBT benefits for all eligible children will be loaded onto a special P-EBT card that was mailed automatically to each eligible child in the previous year. Newly eligible children will receive new cards in the mail. Families who have misplaced or gotten rid of previous P-EBT cards can order new ones by calling the P-EBT Contact Center at 833–518–0282. Future installments will be made directly to eligible children’s P-EBT cards, so families should keep all cards for any additional benefits.

New in 2022, families can sign up for text message alerts about the status of their child’s P-EBT by going to textpebt.dshs.wa.gov and filling out a simple verification form. For full details and additional questions about P-EBT benefits, visit dshs.wa.gov/PEBT or call the P-EBT Contact Center at 833–518–0282 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday (except observed holidays).

P-EBT benefits do not replace any food assistance program already offered, including free summer meals or meals provided in childcare centers. Families are encouraged to continue participating in a summer meal program at their local schools and community locations, even if they receive P-EBT benefits.

To find a nearby Summer Meals site, families can search online, call, or text. Search Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s English-language online Summer Meals Locator, call 866–3-HUNGRY (866–348–6479) or text “Food” to 304–304. In Spanish, families can search the Spanish-language Summer Meals locator online, call 877–8-HAMBRE (877–842–6273) or text “Comida” to 304–304.

Contact: Norah West, DSHS Media Relations, 360–489–5587