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Temporary cash assist for those who qualify for discounted meals

The Maui News

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 state announced this week.

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

Eligible families can receive up to $80 for March, $147 for April and $133 for May for each child enrolled in school. Combined, that will total $360 per child. The Pandemic EBT payment is a one-time supplement.

The amount received will be based on the month the eligible student was enrolled for free or reduced-price meals. If enrollment began prior to or during March, then the eligible student receives all three months of the benefit. If enrollment began in April, the student will receive benefits for April and May. If enrollment began in May, the eligible student receives May P-EBT only.

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

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

Students who receive free or reduced-price school meals but do not receive SNAP benefits will automatically receive a Hawaii P-EBT card in the mail. The Hawaii 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 Hawaii EBT card.

Households do not have to apply for P-EBT. A notification letter will be sent to eligible students’ homes. People who believe they have eligible students in their household but do not receive P-EBT by July 20 should send an email to hi.pebt@dhs.hawaii.gov.

To learn more about applying for free or reduced-price meals, go to www.hawaiipublicschools.org/TeachingAndLearning/HealthAndNutrition/StudentHealthResources/Pages/FreeReducedLunch.aspx.

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