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Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program Resumes In The Commonwealth

Glynis Board I Ohio Valley ReSource

The federal program known as the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) is resuming, and has been extended by the American Rescue Plan Act recently signed into law by President Joe Biden. 

Multiple state organizations report that the extension will significantly help Kentucky families and communities by providing extra nutrition assistance. The help comes at a time when one in four Kentucky children are suffering from food insecurity. 

Some families have already received their P-EBT payments, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Distribution of those payments began on March 15, and will continue through June 25 to cover back payments. The payments will also cover October 2020 through the end of the current school year. 

Families who have children eligible for free or reduced lunch, who attend schools that have the National School Lunch Program, and who participated in virtual or hybrid learning during the 2020-2021 school year will receive benefits. 

P-EBT rates will vary depending on the student’s school district. Homeschooled students and students in school districts that hold full in-person classes are not eligible. 

Kentucky Secretary for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Eric Friedlander, said that he hopes the cabinet can help over half a million children throught the program.

“It is a goal of this cabinet to find everyone who is eligible and make sure they receive services,” he said. “These are things that not only support individuals, but they support our entire communities.”

Friedlander said the additional funds from the American Rescue Plan Act will also help with updating other programs like, SNAP and WIC.

“If there is one thing that we’ve learned coming through this pandemic it should be that whatever happens to one of us in our communities, it happens to us all.” Friedlander said. “A hungry child in our community impacts all of us.”

Families receiving SNAP benefits are also eligible from P-EBT benefits. 

The program not only provides funds for individuals but will also provide funds to schools to help feed students as well as grocery stores. 

Steve McClain, director of communications and public affairs with the Kentucky Retail Federation, said the additional funds are extremely important to communities. 

“In these dollars it’s not just the grocery stores, but it supports the whole supply chain,” he explained during a Kentucky Center for Economic Policy meeting. “From the farmers that produce the food, all the way through the distributors, to the truck drivers, to the folks in the stores.”

P-EBT benefits will last through September. Those who qualify in Kentucky will automatically be enrolled with an option to opt out.

Former student intern Alana Watson rejoined WKU Public Radio in August 2020 as the Ohio Valley ReSource economics reporter. She transitioned to the station's All Things Considered Host in July of 2020 and became the student reporting and producing specialist in 2023. Watson has a B.A. in Broadcasting Journalism for Western Kentucky University and a M.A in Communications from Austin Peay State University. She is a Nashville native and has interned at WPLN-FM in Nashville. Watson was also a 2nd Century Fellow for Wisconsin Public Radio before rejoining WKU Public Radio. She has received numerous awards for her reporting.
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