Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced yesterday that about $2.2 billion in federal food assistance for children in New York State entitled to free school meals and unable to access them due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be distributed by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).
All NYC public school students are entitled to free lunch and are thus eligible. Like regular SNAP benefits, these Pandemic EBT benefits can be used to purchase food at authorized retail food stores or online from authorized retailers.
"Children that participated in remote learning for more than 12 school days during a given month will receive $132 for that month; children who learned remotely for at least one school day but no more than 12 days in each month will receive $82 for that month," Governor's office informed, saying that the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program (P-EBT) will begin on June 14.
Families do not need to apply for the benefits, which will be distributed in two phases: One beginning now and extending through late July that will cover fall semester benefits; and another beginning sometime in late July and extending through August that will cover spring semester benefits.
Eligible children who are in families that are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will see their benefits posted to that household's regular EBT card. The households of all other eligible children will receive a letter informing them of their benefit availability and how to access them, Governor's office says.
Children under the age of 5 who are part of a SNAP household will be eligible for P-EBT food benefits to replace meals missed due to pandemic-related closure of childcare facilities since October 2020.
The families of children who received P-EBT cards by mail for the first round last year will see the latest round of benefits posted to the same card (if they are still eligible). A replacement card can be requested by contacting the automated P-EBT helpline at 1-888-328-6399.
Newly-eligible students who are not part of a SNAP household or in a family receiving Temporary Assistance will be issued a P-EBT card by mail along with instructions on how to activate it.
Last year OTDA delivered roughly $1 billion in P-EBT food benefits to the more than 2.4 million children statewide, including about 1 million who had limited or no previous interaction with public assistance programs.