Thousands of Ohio children who qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school will soon receive money to buy food through the Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced last week.

This funding was made possible by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a release said, adding that ODJFS provided more than $250 million in P-EBT benefits to more than 850,000 Ohio children last spring. The agency recently received federal approval to issue a second round of benefits for children enrolled in schools operating fully remotely or with a hybrid remote/in-person model, the release said.

“As families juggle the challenges of work, remote learning, and additional responsibilities, I hope that these additional benefits eliminate the stress of providing healthy, nutritious meals,” said Gov. Mike DeWine in the release.

ODJFS is working with the Ohio Department of Education and local school districts to identify all eligible children, which includes children participating in remote learning for at least five consecutive days between the dates Aug. 1 and Sept. 30 who are already eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

“Ensuring that our most vulnerable children have access to nutritious meals remains a top priority,” said ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall. “As families continue to navigate the challenges related to COVID, we are happy to have the P-EBT program as an additional resource to offer our children and their families.”

As with the benefits issued last spring, the P-EBT benefits will be added to the Ohio Direction cards of families that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, the release said. Families that do not receive SNAP benefits will be sent P-EBT cards with the one-time benefit added and no application is needed, it added.

Individuals may qualify for SNAP if their household’s gross monthly income is at or under 130% of the federal poverty guidelines. Ohioans can apply at benefits.ohio.gov.

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