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Pandemic EBT - Updated Guidance on Virtual Schools

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PDF Icon Policy memo (129.90 KB)
DATE: September 8, 2022
SUBJECT: Pandemic EBT - Updated Guidance on Virtual Schools
FROM: Lizbeth Silbermann
Acting Associate Administrator
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Sarah Smith-Holmes
Acting Associate Administrator
Child Nutrition Programs
TO: SNAP State Agencies Child Nutrition State Agencies

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is updating its guidance to states on P-EBT eligibility for children who enrolled in non-NSLP-participating fully virtual institutions or began homeschooling since the start of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE).

USDA’s previous guidance, contained in the Q&A document for school year (SY) 2021-22, limited P-EBT eligibility to children who are currently attending NSLP-participating schools and sites. USDA’s guidance for SY 2022-23 recognizes that some children who are currently enrolled in non-NSLP-participating virtual schools, or are currently homeschooled, previously attended NSLP-participating schools that closed or reduced their attendance or hours due to concerns about a COVID-19 outbreak. These children, who would have received free or reduced priced meals at their NSLP-participating schools, enrolled in fully virtual institutions or began homeschooling, in response to COVID. In many cases, their NSLP-participating schools did not offer an alternative virtual option.

Consistent with previous guidance, states that submit P-EBT plans for SY 2022-23 must ensure that eligible children can receive P-EBT benefits under the state plan. With today’s update, this includes children who attended an NSLP-participating school that closed or reduced its days or hours due to concerns about a COVID-19 outbreak and enrolled in a fully virtual institution or began homeschooling at any time since the Jan. 27, 2020, start of the PHE. These children are eligible if they would have received free or reduced-price meals at their NSLP-participating schools and are attending the virtual school or homeschool during the PHE.

At their option, states may extend P-EBT benefits to these children who in past school years were covered by approved P-EBT plans. While we encourage states to do this where feasible, this is a state decision. States that wish to broaden their previously approved plans may submit a plan amendment to USDA. The amendment would contain a description of the population of children who will receive benefits, an estimate of the number of children affected, the value of benefits, and an estimated benefit issuance schedule.

Please reach out to your FNS regional office with any questions.


Sincerely,

Lizbeth Silbermann
Acting Associate Administrator
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Sarah Smith-Holmes
Acting Associate Administrator
Child Nutrition Programs
Updated: 09/08/2022