The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS), in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), has announced that Coloradans with eligible school-enrolled children will begin to receive food benefits through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program starting in late May. This effort will help support Colorado's families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The P-EBT program is designed to reimburse households for meals missed during school closures or reduced hours for students who are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals and attend a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program. This is a continuation of the P-EBT program that was initiated in July 2020 to reimburse families on free and reduced-price lunch for meals missed at school due to COVID-19. Families who qualify will receive a cash-like benefit for August through May of the 2020-21 school year for food-eligible purchases.
"Having access to nourishing food every day is essential to a child's well-being and learning, and the extension of the P-EBT program is one way to help families feed their children who normally access school meals," said CDHS Executive Director Michelle Barnes. "The $49 million we distributed last school year when the P-EBT program was established made an incredible impact on Colorado families and I am thrilled to see this impactful benefit expanded again to this year."
Currently, as many as 355,000 Colorado children are eligible for P-EBT benefits. Benefits are calculated in the amount of $6.82 per student per day of school closure based on federal guidelines. Households with students who are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals will receive a retroactive monthly amount depending on a "remote" or "hybrid" learning model. "Remote" students will receive $136.40 per child/per month and "hybrid" students will receive $81.84 per child/per month.
- Eligible families already participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can expect to have P-EBT benefits automatically loaded on their current EBT cards in late May.
- Families enrolled in the free and reduced-price meal program, but not enrolled in SNAP, will receive a new P-EBT card in the mail with information provided by the local school districts. If a family believes they are eligible and don't receive a new card by the end of May, they may need to ensure they are certified for the free and reduced-price school meal program and that their address information is up to date with their local school or district.
- If you are not already enrolled in the free and reduced-price school meal program, and believe you are eligible, you can complete an application by contacting your local school or district.
More information will be released in late May on P-EBT benefits.
In addition to supporting healthy and wholesome meals for Colorado's eligible children, P-EBT is expected to bring approximately $200 million of federal money into the state's economy through food retailers.