Iowa families to receive Food Assistance benefits through pandemic distribution plan

Iowa News

DES MOINES, Iowa (KCAU) – The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) has announced a distribution plan for more than $76 million in Food Assistance benefits for Iowa families.

The Families First CoronaVirus Act allowed states to issue Food Assistance benefits to families with children in Pre-K through 12th grade who lost access to Free and Reduced Price School Meals due to the pandemic-related school closures in 2020.

According to DHS, there are two ways 247,785 eligible children will receive their Food assistance benefits. The benefits will come out to be $307.80 per child.

  • If a household received Food Assistance benefits anytime in April, May, or June, their benefits will be put on the household’s EBT card on July 15.
    • This will provide benefits to 94,354 children and will be sent to their EBT cards.
  • The rest of the non-Food Assistance children will receive P-EBT cards in the mail between July 14 through the 21.
    • This will cover the remaining 153,431 children.

Eligibility was determined with a detailed match through the Department of Education and Iowa schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program.

Iowa is one of the few states that did not require an application to receive these benefits, according to DHS.

Any child who was enrolled in Pre-K through 12th grade in the 2019-2020 school year, either in a public school or non-public school, that participates in the National School Lunch Program and received Free and Reduced Price School Meals as of March 16, was deemed eligible.

“We hope to create advance awareness about the arrival of the P-EBT cards to prevent families from throwing the envelopes away, not realizing what they contain,” DHS Division Administrator of Adult, Child, and Family Services, Hanee Harvey said.

Cards will arrive in white envelopes addressed with the child’s name from an Austin, Texas return address starting July 14.

The cards inside will be white, with a black front, with IOWA P-EBT printed at the top. The card will also have the name of the eligible child on it.

Families will need to follow the included instructions to activate the card.

Families with current EBT cards will have P-EBT benefits available on July 15 as well.

These benefits will just be added to cards, and families don’t need to do any additional activity to activate the P-EBT funds.

“A family with these eligible children will receive over $900 through P-EBT. That’s a substantial boost during this time when many are struggling with unemployment and additional childcare costs. In cases, where transportation or health concerns are a barrier to shopping in person, we hope families will take advantage of purchasing online. Both Wal-Mart and Amazon online are accepting P-EBT benefits,” Harvey added.

“Ensuring a straightforward user process was top priority as we develop this program. Nonetheless, our call centers and stakeholder partners are prepared to answer questions about how to use or access these benefits,” Harvey said.

For a list of comprehensive FAQ documents in English and Spanish, including eligibility information, and images of what the card and envelopes look like, click here.

DHS said they encourage the public to visit the website to find answers to all their P-EBT questions.

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