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BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Department of Education and the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) today announced the deadline for families to apply for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program has been extended one week, from June 8 to June 15.
June 15 is the final application deadline for the program. No further extension will be announced.
The agencies also today announced a slight delay in the timeline for mailed benefits for parents who applied between May 18 and May 25, during the program's first week of applications. While the vast majority of P-EBT cards for this first group were expected to arrive in Louisiana mailboxes by the first part of this week, DCFS has been notified by its contractor that recipients should expect a delay of several days. Updates will be provided as they become available.
All Louisiana public schools and many non-public school facilities have been closed since March 16 as a result of the ongoing public health crisis. Under the federal P-EBT program, families of children in prekindergarten through 12th grade who normally receive free or reduced-price meals at school may get financial assistance to replace those meals. This includes children who attend a Community Eligibility Provision school (will open in new tab), at which all children receive free and reduced-price meals regardless of income. These benefits, which total $285 per child, intend to cover 50 school days, from the onset of statewide school facility closures through the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. Parents who applied for free meals in May, after the P-EBT program was announced, will receive $91.20, which covers the cost of meals for 16 school days in May.
To date, applications have been submitted on behalf of 431,764 eligible children, or nearly 60 percent of all 729,507 eligible children. This is an increase from previously reported numbers, as the number of children eligible for the benefits has increased since the P-EBT program began.
P-EBT is separate from the more familiar Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit, which is issued on a Louisiana Purchase EBT card to approved low-income households. The P-EBT card can be used to purchase the same eligible food for the household as can be purchased with a SNAP card. All SNAP families with qualifying students are also eligible to receive P-EBT benefits if they apply, and P-EBT also is available to non-SNAP families if they meet the P-EBT guidelines.
The P-EBT benefits do not compete with other school meals programs. Many public school systems, for example, continue to offer emergency school meals to children regardless of the child's enrollment or income. Children can continue to access these meals, in addition to the P-EBT benefits.
The online application (will open in new tab) is simple, requiring only a name, address, school district and school. Social security numbers, while helpful, are not required. The information submitted by the family, however, must exactly match the information on file with the school system in order for the application to successfully submit.
Once families complete an application in the portal, the computer system will notify them of their successful submission. Upon verification, DCFS will then mail the household a P-EBT debit card loaded with a one-time benefit of $285 per child (or $91.20 per child for those parents who applied for free lunch in May).
Families who completed the application by May 25 will be the first to receive the cards. They are expected to arrive this week. Families who completed the application by June 1 should receive benefits by June 13. Those who complete the application by June 8 should receive benefits by June 19. Those who apply by the new June 15 deadline should receive P-EBT cards by June 26.
Benefits are available for 365 days. The cards may be used at any store that accepts SNAP to buy SNAP-eligible food items.