$1 billion in pandemic relief going to Pa. families

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — One of the hidden hardships of the pandemic is that it hit struggling families really hard. When kids who qualify for free meals were forced to stay home, that responsibility shifted to parents. Now there’s help on the way.

A billion dollars in federally funded assistance will go to families of about a million kids who had to learn virtually. Best of all, there are no hoops for them to jump through. Beginning this week and over the next few months, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services will give a billion dollars in pandemic electronic benefit transfer benefits or P-EBT to Pennsylvania families.

All of those families need it, but for some, this could be life-saving.

“For black and Latino children, the situation is even more dire. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports up to 28 percent of children in black households and up to 23 percent in Latino households live in households where children didn’t get enough to eat in the last seven days because the household couldn’t afford it,” said Acting Secretary Meg Snead, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

That’s compared to just 10 percent of children in white households, and getting the benefits will be easy. No applications, no phone calls. If you’re eligible, a card will come in the mail. Most will get them by the end of June. All parents will have to do is activate them.

“If a family received a P-EBT card last spring, your benefits for this school year will not be loaded onto last year’s card. We are mailing you a new card for each child. This card will come in your child’s name,” Acting Secretary Snead said.

The cards can only be used for food, and there are stipulations and restrictions. Different families will receive different amounts of money.

“Based on a 180-day school year, a child who attended school virtually each day of the 2020-21 schoolyear will be eligible for a total $1,227.60,” Acting Secretary Snead said.

If you home school your children or they attend a charter school, they are not eligible for this assistance.

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