DES to offer over $636 million in pandemic EBT benefits to Arizona families

Posted at 9:43 AM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 13:30:56-04

The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) announced Monday it will be offering over $636 million in pandemic EBT benefits to Arizona families.

DES said it is teaming up with the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) to reintroduce Arizona P-EBT benefits that will be available for families with eligible children.

Over $636 million will be distributed to about 765,000 children throughout the state with its first $200 million expected to be provided in the summer of 2021.

“The $200 million we were able to distribute last year when the Pandemic EBT program was established made an incredible impact on Arizona families,” said DES Director Michael Wisehart. “The inclusion of children under 6 enrolled in SNAP will help ensure all families in need of assistance are able to support the nutrition of their children. Thank you to Superintendent Hoffman and the Arizona Department of Education for their partnership in getting this critical assistance to children across the state.”

The P-EBT program is made available through a partnership between DES, ADE, and the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

It is available for every child in a household who is either:

  • Enrolled in the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act program in Arizona whose school is either closed or offering a full-time or part-time distance learning model due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Under the age of 6 and is receiving nutrition assistance (Child Care P-EBT)

DES says Child Care P-EBT will also be provided to 134,000 SNAP-enrolled children under the age of 6 that will cover the months from October 2020 through May 2021.

While many schools have provided curbside pickup meals for remote learners, Emily Thege, Director of Implementation for the Arizona Department of Education’s School Nutrition Program said they saw a need for P-EBT in communities that lack transportation.

“There still is the need for a child or a household to leave their home to go find that food or to go access that food,” Thege said. “So, P-EBT does add an additional criteria that if you are learning off-campus that this is that eligibility or extra support that could compliment getting your school meal.”

She says families do not apply for the program. Instead, with the help of schools, DES will begin distributing the payments to eligible families. Families are expected to receive the funds by April. She says you may be eligible if your child is enrolled in free or reduced lunch or if you are already receiving SNAP benefits.

Qualifying families will receive funds for each month that their child’s school offered distance learning for the 2020-2021 school year.

For more information on P-EBT, click here.