SALT LAKE CITY — With the extra $600 stimulus payment gone and many Utahns out of work, providing food for families is a struggle as the pandemic continues.
There’s a new program that can help fill the gap.
The Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program provides a one-time payment of $308 per child and can be used to purchase food.
Starting Monday, Utah families who haven’t applied for free food aid can do so until the end of the month.
The benefits are open to all children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals that were lost during school closures.
The Utah Department of Workforce Services is encouraging people to apply.
“Those families who are also SNAP recipients, they do not need to apply,” said Communications Director, Nate McDonald. “Because they are already in our system for the Department of Workforce Services and they will automatically get that benefit added to their snap card.”
The state says there are 75,000 families that qualify, but have not applied for the federal program.
“Now it’s estimated if all these families apply we could see upwards of $50 million come to the state directly to these families to help them with their food needs at this time,” McDonald said.
It’s a vital resource at a time when advocates say food insecurity in Utah has doubled in the past six months.
“Looking back to February of 2020, the USDA calculated Utah had a food insecurity rate of 8.2 percent or roughly 1 in 12 households,” said Alex Kragun with Utahns Against Hunger. “Because of pandemic ebt, struggling families will be closer to paying rent, mortgage, utilities without denying their children a meal.”
The deadline to apply is Aug. 31, and the people specifically asked to apply are families who are not SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients, but whose students participated in free or reduced price meal programs.
“We’ve heard the stories and the needs of the most impacted of this pandemic and we believe that this temporary assistance will bring sound relief to those families,” said Mayra Cedano, Exec. Dir. of Comunidades Unidas.
To learn more about the program and to apply, click here.