Customers paying for items at Plaza Extra East, on the Island of St. Croix By VI CONSORTIUM
The VI Department of Human Services announced today the pending approval of a state plan it submitted to the federal Food & Nutrition Service Agency (FNS) for a third round of food assistance through the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) to current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households and non-SNAP households.
These benefits already positively impacted over 13,000 kids in the first and second rounds of issuance and are slated to provide over 17,000 children across the territory with assistance in this third issuance, the sprawling department said.
As the pandemic continues and the ability to attend school continues to be interrupted, the federal government has expanded and extended these benefits, D.H.S. said. This third issuance of P-EBT will also be extended to current SNAP families with children under six years of age. SNAP families do not need to contact local SNAP offices to receive these benefits as they will automatically be added to their accounts.
Not only will this third issuance cover more students, P-EBT benefits will cover the entire 2020 / 2021 school year from August 2020 through September 2021. Additionally, the DHS Division of Family Assistance anticipates a summer issuance of P-EBT benefits to positively impact food and nutrition needs when school is out.
D.H.S. said it has been working with FNS since March 2020 to secure assistance for the territory. Once this plan has been approved by FNS, DHS will provide a detailed plan for how and when those benefits will roll out, according to the release.
Who will receive P-EBT, how will they receive it?
For new P-EBT Students:
What is P-EBT?
P-EBT, an abbreviation for Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, is an additional benefit that basically provides food assistance via an Electronic Benefit Card that can be used in participating grocery stores and convenience stores for food items. Unlike SNAP, which is renewable based on eligibility, P-EBT is a one-time benefit issuance.
P-EBT was funded by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Benefits are available for all Virgin Islands SNAP and non-SNAP households with children who were enrolled in locally registered public and private schools, grades (K – 12) who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to pandemic-related public and private school closures.