First round of pandemic-related food assistance dollars from 2020-2021 school year will reach families’ pockets this month

Low-income families with children will get a boost in their grocery budgets later this month, when the state distributes its first round of pandemic-related food assistance dollars for last school year.

The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program — extended as part of the federal American Rescue Plan — will provide the families of eligible students $6.82 for each day of in-person learning that their children missed for the 2020-2021 academic year. That’s more than $1,200 for each student who learned remotely over the entire school year. 

Congress extended P-EBT to make up for the meals that qualifying students (who shifted to a hybrid or fully remote learning model) used to get at school before the coronavirus pandemic. That includes students who previously received free- and reduced-price meals or whose families receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. 

Children under six who attended child care and live near schools that partially or fully shut down in-person learning are now eligible under the latest extension. 

The Nevada Division of Welfare and Support Services (DWSS) will mail families Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards loaded with funds that work at most grocery stores and are only eligible for food purchases. They won’t work on products including tobacco, alcohol and restaurant food sold for immediate consumption.

This first round of P-EBT will compensate students for learning remotely from August to November of last year. The next batch of funding will go out Oct.14-23 for last year’s December to February period, followed by a third batch on Nov. 14-23 for March to June. After that, a final round for the 2021 summer will go out on a to-be-determined date in December. 

In total, an estimated $523 million is going to 395,000 qualifying students for the last school year, according to DWSS Administrator Steve Fisher.

Fisher said more complex eligibility standards meant the state had to take more time to contract with Deloitte, a consulting firm, that helped them make logistical changes to the rollout.

To ensure that distribution goes smoothly, the state has also set up a number at (866) 568-7328 for families with questions and concerns about their benefits.