Updated June 25, 2020

Access to food has increasingly become a topic of concern for Kentucky families and advocates, especially for those with children who typically receive meals at school. Last week, the Commonwealth received good news on an important benefit for families during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) benefit, which was approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is available to Kentucky households with a child or children who are eligible for free/reduced lunch at school. With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting school closures, this benefit is meant to replace the free/reduced-price meals that a child or children would have received at school with its monetary value on an electronic benefits card. This benefit is for missed school days in March, April, and May 2020.

All children who are eligible for free/reduced lunch at school can access this benefit, including those who qualify based on household income and those who attend a school in the Community Eligibility Program (CEP).

The benefits will be available on an EBT card for families of children who qualify and can be spent in the same way that SNAP dollars can be used to purchase household food items at grocery stores.

There are three distinct groups for benefit distribution in Kentucky:

  • Group I – Benefits will be loaded on existing EBT cards for those families already receiving SNAP benefits.
  • Group II – Benefits will be loaded on new EBT cards that will automatically be mailed to the families of students who access public assistance programs including Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, and youth in foster care, but do not have an EBT card.
  • Group III – All others who are eligible, but do not fit into the first two groups above, can go to the Benefind website to apply for their allotment before August 31, 2020. The application will require student name, address, date of birth, and Statewide Student Identification (SSID). After applying, eligible families will receive a new EBT card in the mail with their benefit.

Although this benefit is for missed school days in March, April, and May, many children will receive their benefits in two parts. First, the benefits for the days missed in March and April combined, then up to three weeks later, the benefit for May will be applied to the P-EBT card.

Please call toll free (888) 979-9949 or email pebt.info@ky.gov for assistance and view this video for more information. Additionally, the Family Support Call Service lines at (855) 306-8959 will be open to assist clients with Medicaid, SNAP, P-EBT, and other public assistance benefits 8 A.M. – 5 P.M. ET Monday through Friday and 9 A.M. – 2 P.M. ET on Saturdays. 

Also, it is important to note for families in each of these groups that immigration status is not collected or needed to apply for this benefit. The application process will be used to match students’ information with that on file at their school, confirming the student(s) is eligible for free/reduced lunch.

Please note: if your child fits into group I or group II outlined above and they have not received their P-EBT benefit, please go online and complete the application before August 31, 2020. If you have more than one child and only received benefits for one child, you can complete the application for all eligible children in your household. This will ensure all eligible children receive their benefits.

For additional information, the Kentucky Department of Education and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services developed a FAQ document along with other resources for parents, advocates, and organizations that engage with eligible households.