SALEM, Ore. — Though the assistance comes late for the 2020-21 school year, Oregon has received federal approval to distribute more than $550 million in food assistance for families that do not have access to free or reduced-price meals that are usually provided at schools.
For an estimated 572,000 children in Oregon, the assistance will come in the form of Pandemic EBT benefits. The federal approval technically applies to students who were eligible for the 2020-21 school year, though issuance is not expected to begin until July.
“P-EBT benefits will significantly support the food security, health and well-being of children and families across Oregon,” said Dan Haun, director of the Oregon Department of Human Services, Self-Sufficiency Programs. “Still, many Oregonians are struggling meeting their basic needs. We encourage them to contact our partners at 211 and the Oregon Food Bank.”
Families do not need to apply for P-EBT benefits — they will automatically be issued for students who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals and were enrolled in Oregon schools.
Children who are not currently enrolled in the meal program can still be admitted online at the Oregon Department of Education website or through their schools. The application needs to be completed before June 30 to receive the P-EBT benefits.
Each student receives their own P-EBT card, and families who are new to the program will receive a card in the mail with instructions. Cards are mailed to the address on file with the school for students who do not receive SNAP. Those who are already SNAP recipients will receive P-EBT benefits on the EBT card provided through SNAP.
Children who receive a card can still participate in grab-and-go meals or other emergency food programs provided through schools or other community organizations.
“All children deserve access to adequate nutrition to fuel their learning. The Oregon Department of Education is happy to be partnering with ODHS and local school districts to meet the nutrition needs of Oregon's children and families who were most impacted by the pandemic,” said Cindy Hunt, Chief of Staff at ODE.