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State issuing federal benefits for families

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Families eligible to receive food assistance benefits will get a one-time payment of $391 per child under a federal program that came out of the pandemic.

The money comes from the state health department’s plan approved to administer $12.5 million in Summer Pandemic Electronic Transfer benefits and will reach about 32,000 Montana kids ages 0-17 starting Wednesday.

The program is funded under the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was first paid for through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020. The Secretary of Agriculture approves states’ plans for how they want to administer the program.

“With prices rising and inflation at a 41-year high, it’s more difficult for Montanans to put gas in their cars and trucks and put food on the table,” Gov. Greg Gianforte said in a press release announcing the funding.. “This timely funding will provide a boost for hardworking families as the school year kicks off.”

Families will get the one-time benefit of $391 per each eligible child.

“We’re excited to announce thousands of Montana families will benefit from our tailored Summer P-EBT program,” department Director Charlie Brereton said in the press release. “We committed to collaborating with our federal partners to find a P-EBT solution that works for Montana, and we did so.”

Families with children under age six receiving SNAP benefits and school-aged children who received Free and Reduced Price Meals under the National School Lunch Program will automatically be eligible for Summer P-EBT. This includes school children who attended a school that qualified for reduced price meals under the Community Eligibility Provision for the 2021-2022 school year.

Children under the age of 6 who get Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are eligible, and payments will be made to their existing EBT card. Newly eligible families will get their card and funds in the mail.

Children recently enrolled in the National School Lunch Program are also eligible if they applied by Aug. 29. And children under the age of 6 who got SNAP benefits over the summer are also eligible.

The state Department of Public Health and Human Services asked school districts to send them information about any students eligible for the program by June 30, and schools that have not sent in information must do so by Sept. 22. For students to get benefits, their school must provide the state health department with eligibility information.

Students whose school missed the the first deadline will see their benefits issued in early November.

“We appreciate Montana’s commitment to Summer P-EBT to ensure children have access to nutritious foods year-round, not just when school is in session,” said Mountain Plains Regional Administrator Cheryl Kennedy of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service in the press release. “The program has great reach, including to rural areas, improving nutrition security and helping kids to eat healthier foods at a time when families need extra support to bear increased food costs.”


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