Waterbury, Vt.—Vermont families with school-age children are getting a boost to their bank accounts thanks to federal funding for summer food benefits. The federal government authorized the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF) and Agency of Education (AOE) to provide a temporary food benefit to all students in public schools, as well as some in independent schools.
In total, between February – May 11, 2023, $9,980,804 in Pandemic EBT, or P-EBT benefits, including a summer benefit, was provided to 80,556 students in 53,535 households. Since the start of the P-EBT program in Spring 2020, Vermont families have received $95.6 million in P-EBT benefits. Because the federal public health emergency has ended, this is the final year of P-EBT.
"Being well nourished leads to better learning outcomes for students. We want to make sure every family takes advantage of this benefit, ensuring their children are well fed and prepared for a new school year,” said Interim Secretary of Education Heather Bouchey.
What is P-EBT?
P-EBT benefits are food benefits provided to Vermonters by the federal government. For school year 2022-2023, all public schools in Vermont and some independent schools offered free meals to all students through certain criteria set by the federal government. All students attending one of these schools received a summer benefit of $120 per student and $8.18 per day for a COVID related absence per child to spend on food.
Why should households spend this?
- This money is for households regardless of income or need.
- Everyone who meets the criteria in VT receives the benefit(s).
- Spending this stimulates VT’s economy and supports local grocers and farmers.
- If a household chooses not to spend it, this food benefit will be returned to the federal government after 274 days. Households who choose not to use the food benefits can cut through the magnetic stripe on the card and discard it in a secure manner. Cards may not be given to someone else.
How can households spend this?
- Purchase groceries for their household.
- Visit a local farmers market that accepts EBT. For a list of participating farmers markets and to learn about using Crop Cash (the EBT-matching program), visit https://www.nofavt.org/farmers-markets/map. Purchase non-perishable goods and donate to a local grocery store or food pantry. For a list of food pantries, visit https://www.vtfoodbank.org/agency-locator.
“The P-EBT benefit provides extra funds to families to purchase groceries,” said DCF Commissioner Chris Winters. “Using this benefit also helps the Vermont economy.”
How The Benefit Was Issued:
- Households participating in 3SquaresVT receive this additional benefit on their EBT cards.
- Other households are issued benefits on special P-EBT cards issued last year or will receive a new P-EBT card in the mail if the household is new to the program.
- Households that no longer have their old P-EBT card and households that have moved over the summer or been displaced due to flooding can call 1-800-479-6151, option 7, to request a new card or a change of mailing address.
P-EBT benefits may be used to buy eligible food items anywhere 3SquaresVT is accepted. To learn more, read these Frequently Asked Questions on our website at https://dcf.vermont.gov/esd/P-EBT.