Getting Answers: Here’s what you need to know about the extension of EBT food benefits

The federal government approved additional pandemic EBT food benefits in the Bay State. This would be the final round of school year and summer P-EBT benefits.
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 8:04 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - The federal government has approved additional pandemic EBT food benefits in the Bay State. This would be the final round of the school year and summer P-EBT benefits.

Western Mass News spoke with an economics professor at American International College to find out what’s next after these benefits end.

A sigh of relief for many families that were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government approving an extension to pandemic EBT food benefits seen during the school year and summer break.

“These are very important programs and I think that the state government of Massachusetts is pretty proud of being one of the states that has the lowest levels of food insecurity in the country,” said Professor John Rogers.

If you are unfamiliar with the program, it was created to provide stability to families with students eligible for free and reduced-priced school lunches but couldn’t get their meals due to being out of school from COVID-19-related excused absences.

Now, to the eligible families.

They will receive a retroactive P-EBT payment on June 25 for COVID-19-related absences from school between September 2022 and May 11, 2023. The amount received depends on how many COVID-19-related school absences the student’s district reports.

  • Families facing 1-5 absences will receive $25 a month per student.
  • Those with between 6-15 absences will receive $82 a month per student.
  • If a family has 16 plus days’ worth of absences will receive $147 a month per student.

Plus, nearly 500,000 eligible families will receive $120 per student in one summer p EBT payment on July 25.

“This is basically kind of a catch-up or a bridge program where a lot of people either were people didn’t understand how to file for these benefits had lost their EBT card didn’t register in the first place so this is kind of a grace period that they have I think they call it this off-ramp so that they can still take advantage of these benefits,” said Rogers.

With families in this program receiving their last payments in June and July, Western Mass News sat down with John Rogers, a professor of economics at American International College. He said while the program is helpful in combatting food insecurity, it wasn’t meant to last forever.

“So, things are kind of going back to normal and in the meantime there’s a lot of pressure to cut federal government spending or bring government spending back into line,” said Rogers. “This is trying to get back to the situation the prevailed prior to 2020 when the pandemic hit.”

Students that were not eligible for free or reduced priced meals can submit an application through their district by august first to see if they qualify for P-EBT.

If you lost your P-EBT card you can request a replacement, we will have that information HERE.