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Florida gets greenlight to participate in USDA's Pandemic EBT Program

Florida Food Stamps
Posted at 5:39 PM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 20:16:59-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Families whose children receive free or reduced-price school meals will automatically receive EBT benefits in June.

Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced federal approval for the implementation of Florida’s Pandemic EBT Program (P-EBT).

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act allows for states to issue P-EBT as a supplemental benefit for households with children who temporarily lost access to free and reduced-price school meals due to pandemic-related school closures.

The program will automatically issue benefits during the month of June to more than 2.1 million children who have temporarily lost access to free and reduced-price school meals during COVID-19-related school closures.

“I applaud President Trump and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for allowing states to identify gaps in services and develop new and needed programs that will help parents be reassured that their children will continue to receive healthy lunches although the school year is completed,” said Governor DeSantis.

Families eligible to receive free or reduced-priced school meals will automatically receive this benefit during the month of June, no further action is needed from recipients at this time.

According to the USDA, all children who would receive free or reduced-price meals, if not for their school closure due to COVID-19, are eligible to receive P-EBT.

That also includes students attending schools that participate in CEP, Provision 2, or Provision 3 if they attend a school closed for at least five consecutive days due to the public health emergency.

If a child receives free or reduced priced school meals, but their household does not receive SNAP, or other program benefits via EBT, the state will have to work with their EBT vendor to issue that household P-EBT benefits on a new EBT card.

School Food Authorities (SFAs) can continue to operate other Federal nutrition programs while participating in P-EBT. The statute does not prohibit children from participating in more than one nutrition program.

“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, we continue to work closely with our state and federal partners to help Florida families overcome situations brought on by this pandemic,” said DCF Secretary Chad Poppell. “This program offers automatic relief to families while ensuring children are not hungry during this crisis and allowing parents to focus on their family’s economic recovery.

For the 2019-2020 school year, Florida had approximately 2.07 million children eligible for free and reduced-priced lunch, or approximately 71% of children in participating schools.

P-EBT is administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), in partnership with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).

“Fighting the chronic hunger and food insecurity worsened by this pandemic is one of our top priorities, and the Pandemic EBT program will help us ensure that the families that most need help can access fresh, healthy nutrition at this challenging time," said Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

For more information and Frequently Asked Questions about the P-EBT benefit program, visit