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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: August 18, 2020
Contact: 

Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936, (406) 461-3757, jebelt@mt.gov
OPI School and Nutrition, (406) 444-2501


DPHHS, OPI Urge Families to Apply for P-EBT Nutrition Assistance

Over 61,000 children have already benefitted

Officials with the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) and Office of Public Instruction (OPI) are urging Montana families who haven’t already received the Pandemic Electronic Transfer (P-EBT) benefit to apply by the September 21 deadline.

The federal program was launched in response to COVID-19 and reimburses families of school-aged children (5-18) who lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to school closures as a result of COVID-19.

DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan said that over 61,000 Montana children have already benefitted from the program that reimburses families for lost school days during the 2019-20 school year. However, DPHHS and OPI officials believe that thousands more Montanans are likely eligible.

Recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and non-SNAP families have been awarded.

Over the past several months, both DPHHS and OPI have been working directly to connect families known to be eligible for the benefit, such as those who already receive SNAP benefits and non-SNAP families who were eligible for free or reduced-price school meals as of March 18, 2020.

“This has been a difficult time for families, and we’re hopeful this assistance will be helpful,” DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan said. “We’re pleased to have awarded this benefit to thousands of Montana families, but we know there’s more to be done to reach additional eligible families. We encourage any family who believes they are eligible to apply.”

The OPI’s School Nutrition specialists have been working with DPHHS to connect families to the program. “Ensuring that all Montana children have access to school meals during these challenging times for our Montana families is crucial to students’ well-being and education,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen.

The benefit is a one-time only payment of $330 per eligible child in the household. The payment amount is calculated at $5.70 for 58 missed school days for the 2019-20 school year.

DPHHS has rolled out the program in stages. The first stage included families who were already receiving SNAP benefits from August 1, 2019 to March 19, 2020. These families received the benefit last month on their existing EBT card.

The second stage included non-SNAP families. In recent weeks, these families were mailed an EBT card with the P-EBT benefit. Families in either of the first two categories do not need to take any additional steps.

The school must participate in the National School Lunch Program for children to be eligible for free or reduced-priced meals and the student must have attended the school as of March 18, 2020. If the student received SNAP benefits between August 1, 2019 and March 18, 2020 they are also eligible.

Families that have not yet received the P-EBT benefit, but believe they are eligible can apply for the program. Families are encouraged to apply here: https://dphhs.mt.gov/pebt. Applications must be submitted by September 21, 2020.