Since the pandemic began, Just Harvest has been working to help people access P-EBT. Hearing from hundreds of struggling families across PA has made it clear that the system isn’t nearly where it needs to be to get families these benefits in a timely way.
Other states have done a far better job.
The Biden Administration announced P-EBT will be given to families whose children have to go remote during the coming school year. Last week, the USDA released the official guidance for states to distribute it.
With the pandemic surging, unemployment benefits ending for many families in early September, and eviction protections disappearing, it is more urgent than ever that families get the nutrition benefits they need.
Anti-hunger advocates, parents, and concerned Pennsylvanians are sending a letter to the heads of the State Departments of Human Services and Education to move quickly to improve the state P-EBT system. Families must be able to get this benefit — and any prior P-EBT they should have received — quickly and easily.
Please sign our letter to Secretaries Snead (DHS) and Ortega (DoE). Join us in urging them to:
- Increase staffing for P-EBT distribution using federal funds;
- Improve the inquiry system so families receive an immediate response assuring them of receipt and then prompt follow-up;
- Improve communications between departments so there is less opportunity for error;
- Provide better info to PA schools so they can be a more informed first point of contact for families and provide more accurate student address and eligibility data back to the state;
- Provide more support to schools for these efforts;
- Provide P-EBT information and timely updates through their websites so families have a reliable source for the most current information;
- Enable existing DHS staff to help families receiving SNAP with their P-EBT benefits;
- Invest in universal school and P-EBT data systems to streamline administering these benefits; and
- Make the P-EBT system accessible to people who don’t speak English.
Most importantly, DHS must immediately resolve the huge backlog of parent inquiries for the 2020-21 school year and prior. These thousands of inquiries from the previous two school years will keep their staff from distributing P-EBT benefits for this coming school year. That means additional delays, frustrations, and inadequate food for students who need nutritional support in order to learn.
This is your chance to improve P-EBT for PA families struggling to keep food on the table. Whether you’re an individual or an organization, please add your name!