On June 25, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced Oklahoma’s approval to operate a Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program through funding provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The program provides extra food benefits for families with school-aged children who would have received free or reduced-priced school meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and who meet certain eligibility criteria.
Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) and the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) worked together to create a state plan ensuring that every eligible household across the state could access benefits without needing to complete an application. Through a collaborative data-sharing agreement, current SNAP households identified by OKDHS, as well as non-SNAP households which include children eligible for free and reduced-price school meals identified by OSDE, will automatically receive P-EBT benefits.
“We appreciate this partnership to reach children and families who are economically impacted most because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “Children must have their basic needs met to be ready to learn, and many Oklahoma families rely on free or reduced-priced school meals when schools are open.”
P-EBT benefits will be issued for the 44-day period that schools were closed at the end of the 2019-2020 school year from March 17 through May 15, 2020. OKDHS estimates that it will issue $35.9 million to 80,158 SNAP households and $75.1 million to 231,863 non-SNAP households. These benefits are equivalent to the daily reimbursement for free breakfast and lunch in the state, or $5.70 as specified by the USDA, multiplied by the average number of days school was cancelled in the month for each eligible child in the household.
“We are excited to offer this benefit to the Oklahoma families who need it most,” said Patrick Klein, Director of OKDHS Adult and Family Services. “Both SNAP and NSLP, along with other similar programs administered by the USDA FNS, are designed to ensure that children and families have access to the resources and nutrition they need to be successful. We are proud of this partnership in support of Oklahoma’s families.”
Using the above calculation, eligible Oklahoma families will receive the following P-EBT benefits by Aug. 30:
Per day – $5.70
March missed days
March – $62.70
April missed days
April – $125.40
May missed days
May – $62.70
Total benefit per eligible child
Families do not need to apply or contact either agency in order to receive these benefits, which will be automatically issued in staggered allotments by Aug. 30. Each month’s issuance will be completed separately resulting in three separate deposits to be completed by Aug. 30, but all benefits will be received on the same card. Families already receiving SNAP will receive the benefits on their EBT cards. Non-SNAP families will be issued EBT cards, which they will receive in the mail along with instructions on pinning the card, how to decline the benefit or return the card.
Households who believe they are eligible but who have not received P-EBT benefits by Aug. 30, or who believe there was an error, may contact OKDHS at (405) 522-5050 for assistance after Aug. 30.