This week, Oregon children will begin receiving the first of three monthly payments of up to $408 per child to buy groceries.
The payments are intended to make up for the free or reduced-cost meals that more than 400,000 preschoolers and public school students missed out on last year when most schools and child care centers were closed.
That means many Oregonians age 18 and younger will get the money, which can be spent on any of the foods and beverages that people are allowed to purchase with food stamps. That includes fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy products, bread, cereal, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.
Meals are also still available at many schools and students who get these new funds can still get free meals at school.
Salem-Keizer is continuing its Grab-n-Go meals this summer Monday through Friday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. For more information, go to salkeiz.k12.or.us/news/grab-go-meals-information-2021/.
Children are eligible for the Pandemic EBT funds if they:
- Attend a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program and have enrolled in the free or reduced-price meals program.
- Attend a school that qualifies to provide meals to all students for free, regardless of the individual student’s family income. No enrollment was required.
- Are age 0-5 and get SNAP benefits.
- Are age 6, get SNAP benefits and the state has received verification that they are enrolled in a childcare facility with reduced hours or closures. Verification can be emailed to [email protected]
Homeschooled children are not eligible.
In the Mid-Willamette Valley, the majority of students who attend Salem-Keizer Public Schools qualify automatically. All students in the Woodburn School District, Gervais School District and at Chemawa Indian School qualify.
Chemawa School:Feds may investigate after discovery of Canadian mass graves
Individual students in the Cascade, Dallas, Silver Falls and North Santiam school districts will get payments if they have been determined eligible for free or reduced-price meals through their school.
To check your school’s qualifying status, visit oregon.gov/dhs/assistance/food-benefits/pages/p-ebt.aspx.
If your child does not attend a school in which all students qualify automatically but you believe your family would qualify due to your income, you can apply at https://www.ode.state.or.us/apps/FRLApp/Default/Apply. The qualifying income levels are on the website. For example, families of two with an annual income below $32,227 or four with an annual income below $49,025 would qualify.
How will the funds arrive?
For children enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the extra money will be loaded onto their parents’ Oregon Trail cards between Thursday and July 29, then again in late August and late September.
Other qualifying families will be mailed special debit cards with the child’s name on them.
The cards will be mailed Thursday from South Dakota to the address listed on file with your child’s school. State officials are warning families to be on the lookout for mail from an unfamiliar address in that state that will contain the cards. Like Oregon Trail cards, they will be reloaded in late August and late September to allow for the purchase of additional groceries.
How much will families get?
The first of the three payments is designed to cover school lunches children would have received last October, November and December.
Any child who was eligible for free or reduced-price school meals and whose school was closed or serving most of its students remotely during that period will be sent $136 a month, or $408 if most students were exclusively engaged in distance learning all three months.
Children whose schools served most students with a combination of in-person and distance learning during those months will be sent $75 a month.
Federal funding:Salem-Keizer to get an additional $151M in federal relief funds
Students whose schools served grab-and-go meals to students engaged in distance learning or otherwise provided students food outreach will still be eligible for the full $136 a month.
The August payments will cover missed school meals from January, February and March. And the final payments, arriving in September, will cover school care closures or hybrid teaching schedules for just two months, April and May, meaning the final payment will top out at $272.
Families who wish to opt-out of the program may do so by emailing [email protected], but declining the money will not make those funds available to any other children.
For more information on the new benefits specific to Salem-Keizer families, go to salkeiz.k12.or.us/news/food-benefits-families/.
Statesman Journal senior news editor Alia Beard Rau contributed to this article.