Only 27,000 households have applied for a federal pandemic child nutrition assistance program in Utah, out of an estimated 77,000 households that qualify for the program, according to Utahns Against Hunger.
Time is running out as applications for the program must be submitted before midnight on Aug. 31.
Known as Pandemic EBT, the program provides a one-time benefit of $308 to children in kindergarten through 12th grade who were receiving free or reduced-price school meals on or before March 16, 2020.
“We know there are roughly 50,000 households that may be eligible for this benefit, which could bring an additional $35 million to Utah for these families,” said Nate McDonald, communication director for the department of Workforce services. “This could be a great start to the school year for these families to have some extra food security.”
Pandemic EBT is a federal food assistance program authorized by Congress as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
About 60,000 students whose households were receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits on or before March, 16, 2020, have already received their Pandemic EBT benefit, according to Alex Cragun, food security advocate for Utahns Against Hunger.
Eligible families that didn’t receive those benefits can visit Utahns Against Hunger’s Pandemic EBT page at www.pebtutah.org for information on how to apply or contact the Department of Workforce Services to receive the Pandemic EBT benefits, according to Cragun.
“There are 50,000 eligible households that have yet to apply and less than a week to apply,” Cragun said. “If your child attends a community eligible provision school — a school where all students receive free meals — or if they were enrolled in free/reduced meals on or before March 16th, we urge you to apply.”
These benefits will be able to fill budget gaps for tens of thousands of families. The Department of Workforce Services issued more than $6 million dollars to the first families that applied for the benefit, according to Cragun.
“Not only does that help families buy food but has a real impact on the economy,” Cragun said.
Community eligible provision schools in Tooele County School District include Anna Smith, Copper Canyon, Ibapah, and Northlake Elementary schools and Wendover High School.
More information about Pandemic EBT can be found on the website PEBTUtah.org. Applications must be submitted by midnight, Aug. 31, 2020, and benefits will be provided in Sept. 2020. The short application is available online at jobs.utah.gov/PEBT.