By Eric Galatas
More than 200,000 Colorado children have not yet been enrolled in a food-assistance program that would put up to $279 per child into their parents’ wallets.
Max Young, SNAP education and outreach administrator for the Colorado Department of Human Services, said the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer, or P-EBT, program, is meant to help pay for meals kids would have received at school during coronavirus-related closures.
She said the benefit can be tapped in addition to SNAP – the program formerly known as food stamps – as well as food pantries or any other assistance.
“The benefit is really not meant to impact any other benefit that families might be receiving from the state, but really meant to help families where they are right now navigate the waters of this pandemic,” Young said.
P-EBT benefits come in a debit-like card that can be used to buy food-related items at most grocery stores and many farmer’s markets.
Young said if a child attended a school that offered free or reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program, they’re eligible, regardless of a family’s immigration status.
P-EBT benefits will not impact Public Charge determination.
To sign up, Young suggested typing “Colorado P-EBT” into your favorite search engine, or visit her agency’s website.
“The benefit is really not meant to impact any other benefit that families might be receiving from the state, but really meant to help families where they are right now navigate the waters of this pandemic.”
Max Young, Colorado Department of Human Services
One significant barrier for getting all eligible kids enrolled is parents have to provide their student’s ten-digit state-issued I-D number, which can be different from their regular school I-D, so Young recommended families contact their school district before applying.
Young added the program also is expected to play a big role in the state’s recovery by generating more than $100 million in economic impact.
“That not only helps families provide food to their family, but also helps local grocery stores with food purchases as well,” Young said. “So we expect a huge boost to our economy just through the approval of this benefit alone.”
The program was funded through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act for the 2019-2020 school year. The program has not yet been extended for the fall semester.
Young said if schools can’t remain open, more help will be needed to ensure families can continue to provide nutritious meals for students at home.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients: If you were notified that you received a “zero benefit” or $0 benefit for August, please check your balance. Some recipients received such notice by error. You may also call EBT customer service at 1.888.328.2656 or 1.800.659.2656
Another resource is 2-1-1 Colorado which connects Coloradans to critical resources such as housing assistance, food support, help with utility bills and more. Visit their website or dial 2-1-1 on your phone.
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