South Carolina has obtained approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service for the issuance of Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits to eligible K-12 students for the 2020–2021 school year. The P-EBT program will be available to all K-12 students in South Carolina who qualify for the National School Lunch Program or the Child Care Subsidy Program.
In addition to the federal government, states also have the option to issue their own emergency food assistance during a public health crisis. South Carolina's program is called the Palatable Emergency Food Assistance Program (PEFAP). To be eligible for PEFAP, individuals must meet income eligibility requirements for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), be enrolled in one of the state's approved school meal programs, or be attending a child care facility. Recipients can receive up to $200 per household per month for no more than four months.
SNAP is the largest federal program that provides nutritional assistance to low-income households with children and adults. Eligible participants can purchase food at reduced prices at authorized USDA retail stores. In addition, participants can use their electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards at farmers' markets, at vending machines located within grocery stores, and at restaurants that participate in the Electronic Benefits Transfer System (EBTS).
North Carolina will continue to provide extra assistance with food purchases under the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program through January 19, 2021. For people who currently have an EBT card for Food and Nutrition Services or P-EBT benefits, these benefits will be distributed over many days beginning Friday. People should refer to their email or letter for instructions on how to access their benefits.
People who don't already have an EBT card can register online at www.ebtcard.gov or by calling 877-877-3229. Enroll by 5 p.m. on Thursday if you want your registration to be processed immediately in time for the weekend distribution of benefits.
Benefits are limited to two payments per household per month. If you receive more than $125 in benefits this month, any additional funds from NC FNS must be used by March 31, 2021.
The purpose of the P-EBT program is to ensure that individuals who need it most can access nutrition services during this time. Unlike cash benefits that people can spend how they like, electronic benefits cannot be redeemed for specific products; they are fixed values that cover only the cost of purchasing nutritious food.
In addition to distributing P-EBT benefits, North Carolina has also increased its overall food stamp budget by 20 percent, or $10 million.
The continuation of P-EBT through summer 2021 will give about $450 million in summer food assistance to an estimated 1.2 million children and families in North Carolina. That's about $4,500 for every child in North Carolina.
The amount of money people will receive is based on how much food stamp money was available in their county. Each month after initial enrollment, eligible individuals will receive an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card that can be used at grocery stores to buy food. The amount of benefits paid out each month is determined by the federal government.
North Carolina received $140 million in July 2020 to help feed more than one million people across the state. That's $1400 per person.
This number includes cash assistance for low-income households and emergency food supplies for those who need them most. It does not include work-related programs such as job training or employment services.
The amount of time that food stamp benefits will continue to be provided once Congress stops funding them has not been decided upon yet.
It is very likely that these funds will not be renewed when they expire next year. Instead, Congress would have to pass new legislation to extend these benefits for another year.
California has been permitted to give additional P-EBT benefits for August and September 2020 to offer nutrition benefits to children who would otherwise receive free or reduced-price school meals except for COVID-19. [November 2, 2020] The maximum P-EBT extension benefit amount is $246. [Id.]
In addition, California has been permitted to give out an additional 10,000 EBT cards each month until December 31, 2020.
These measures are in response to the COVID-19 school meal loss mitigation program. Beginning in October 2016, California began allowing counties to offer additional food assistance through their own programs. These additional benefits can be given as cash or as food supplies. In 2018, California passed legislation permitting the expansion of its EBT card program to provide additional funds.
The California Department of Social Services (DSS) is responsible for administering both the school lunch and the EBT card programs. DSS has the authority to extend emergency benefits and accept applications for those benefits. Any county office of education that has received federal funding to serve low-income students is eligible to participate in these programs.
To be eligible for an extension of P-EBT benefits, a household must meet certain income requirements based on what family size you are. If your income falls below these levels, then you will not be eligible.