A second round of Pandemic EBT benefits to tackle food insecurity among Alabama children is making its way to families across the state. Benefits are going to families of eligible school-aged children who missed out on free or reduced meals because of the pandemic, according to the Alabama Department of Human Resources.
The agency said EBT cards are being mailed to families with children in pre-K and Kindergarten through 12th grade who lost access to meals from the National School Lunch Program during the 2020-21 school year because their schools closed or switched to virtual and hybrid learning.
All elementary school-age students are automatically enrolled for the benefits, however, Alabama DHR uses free and reduced meal qualifications to determine the middle and high school-age students’ eligibility, according to Lawrence Schools Child Nutrition Coordinator Michelle Chenault.
Although there is now application required for students to receive the benefits, Chenault said middle and high school students whose family income has changed over the past year—making them eligible for free or reduced-price lunches—should consider applying for the school meal program. Once they are enrolled for free or reduced school meals, they too will automatically be enrolled for the P-EBT cards, she said.
“(Students who) are enrolled in (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) SNAP will receive the card automatically, but students whose household has seen a change in income that would qualify them for the program should turn in a form,” Chenault added.
If the family needs to apply for free/reduced lunch status in order to qualify for the P-EBT card, Chenault said the easiest way to apply is through the website: ezmealapp.com. Applicants may also request a form directly from Chenault by visiting her office at the Lawrence County Board of Education on Market Street in Moulton.
“It is important to note that all school meals for all of our students (PK-12), will be free this next school year,” said Chenault. “This free/reduced application process is only necessary to help the middle school and high school students qualify for the P-EBT card if their household income has decreased.”
P-EBT cards may take several weeks to arrive due to the volume of eligible children and shipping time frames, according to Alabama DHR.
“Alabama has successfully tackled childhood hunger throughout this pandemic thanks to the P-EBT program and an effective multi-agency partnership,” Alabama DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner said. “We are extremely grateful to our partners at USDA-FNS and to Dr. Eric Mackey and his team at the Department of Education, along with our advocates, for their continued support of our mission to feed Alabama’s children.”
Alabama DHR said the recent batch of P-EBT benefits covers school meals missed from August through December 2020. Families will receive separate EBT cards for each eligible child in their household. Recipients are encouraged to hold onto the cards because additional benefits may be added in the future.
If you have questions about benefits, call DHR at 1-800-410-5827 between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.