Food assistance for eligible families

HONOLULU — The state Department of Human Services and Hawai‘i Child Nutrition Programs under the state Department of Education have announced that families with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals will receive temporary cash assistance for food, due to the impact of school closures during the COVID-19 public-health crisis.

The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program is part of a food-assistance plan approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, and authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

This temporary-assistance program will provide Hawai‘i P-EBT Pandemic School Meals Replacement Benefits to more than 93,000 students receiving free or reduced-price school meals in Hawai‘i, including almost 48,000 students already receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) benefits.

“The P-EBT program provides resources that give families healthy-food options for children during this public-health and economic crisis,” said DHS Director Pankaj Bhanot. “Together, in collaboration with the Department of Education, we are able to share this vital and timely information about the P-EBT program with Hawai‘i families statewide.”

There are two ways the P-EBT will be distributed:

w Eligible SNAP households will have their March, April and May P-EBT benefits automatically deposited to their existing Kokua EBT cards. The P-EBT benefits can be used the same way as their Kokua EBT cards, and can also be used in the DA BUX program.

w Families of students who receive free or reduced-price school meals but do not receive SNAP benefits will automatically receive a Hawai‘i P-EBT card in the mail. The Hawai‘i P-EBT card will be issued under the name of the oldest student in the household. Benefits for all eligible school-aged children in the home will be loaded onto this one Hawai‘i EBT card.

Households do not have to apply for P-EBT. A notification letter will be sent to eligible students’ homes. Those who believe there are eligible students in the household but do not receive the P-EBT by July, 20 should email hi.pebt@dhs.hawaii.gov.

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