CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says a second round of the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program (P-EBT) has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The P-EBT will be allocated during the pandemic to eligible children who qualify for free or reduced-priced meals under the National School Lunch Program. The West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources will administer the P-EBT program.
The West Virginia Department of Education says an estimated $200 million is expected as part of this round of benefits. The program has already provided $72.6 million in food assistance support for children in West Virginia.
“We are incredibly grateful that another round of these benefits will be allocated in West Virginia, even as the challenges posed by the pandemic continue,” Gov. Justice said. “Our children are our greatest treasure in West Virginia and making sure our kids have enough to eat is absolutely the most important thing we can do – it’s why, the moment we closed our schools last year, we went right to work delivering millions of meals all across the state. So, we appreciate the extra help this program will continue to provide.”
P-EBT funding has resulted in more than $72.6 million in food assistance support for West Virginia children, and an estimated $200 million is expected as a part of the next round of benefits.
“West Virginia’s commitment to consistent and high-quality meals for children during the pandemic remains a top priority,” said State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “The P-EBT program has been important because of the flexibility it offers families. As the pandemic continues, children will benefit immensely from these extended benefits that will strengthen our efforts to ensure children have access to the nutrition they need.”
Justice said in his semi-daily briefing, the benefits will be released beginning in mid-March and will be retroactively applied to the beginning of the school year. The WVDE says these benefits will be applied to a special P-EBT card eligible families will receive in the mail, and not to the Mountain State EBT card.
“It is necessary that children’s nutritional needs are met to assure that they remain healthy and ready to learn,” said Cabinet Secretary for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bill J. Crouch. “We know the pandemic has been an incredibly stressful time for West Virginia families and hope that P-EBT alleviates some challenges.”
The WVDE says a public information hotline and website to help explain more about the latest round of P-EBT will be available beginning Monday, Feb. 15.