Oregon to provide children with benefits to replace school meals

Oregon families who qualified for free and reduced-price school meals will get cash benefits for the meals their kids would have missed – even if they’ve been taking advantage of the free meal programs offered by local school districts.

The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) announced the program on Tuesday, which will benefit more than 351,000 students receiving free or reduced-price meals in the state.

The ‘Pandemic School Replacement Benefit’ will be the equivalent to one free lunch and one free breakfast for each eligible child – $5.70 per normal school day for the months of March, April, May and June.

“Together, DHS and ODE are working to ensure no child in Oregon goes hungry during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dan Haun, DHS Self-Sufficiency Programs Director. “This resource is the result of our strong collaboration and will provide additional support for child nutrition and expand families’ options for healthy food.”

Benefits will be retroactive to March 16, 2020 for students who received free and reduced price meals when schools closed. For newly eligible free or reduced-price meals or SNAP households, benefits will start at the beginning of the month they become eligible. Eligible families will receive the following for each child:

  • $69 for March
  • $126 in April
  • $120 in May
  • $69 in June

“The approval of this program highlights the tremendous partnership between ODE and DHS and our shared desire to strengthen our communities,” said Dustin Melton, Director of ODE’s Child Nutrition Programs. “The P-EBT program will support student’s nutritional needs during a time of crisis and uncertainty.”

Eligible Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households will have their March, April and May benefits automatically deposited to their existing Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) accounts in late May. Students who get free or reduced-price school meals Oregon Department of Human Services Safety | Health | Independence but do not receive SNAP benefits will automatically receive an Oregon Trail Card in the mail.

Families who have experienced significant income loss may have become eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, and there is still time to apply. Apply online at https://www.ode.state.or.us/apps/FRLApp/Default or contact your local school.

Additional options to strengthen food security among Oregonians, include the ability for households to:

  • use their EBT card to include online food purchases through Amazon and Walmart (delivery fees not included).
  • take advantage of the double up food bucks program, which matches every $1 ofEBT funds spent – up to $10 – on fresh fruit and vegetables at participating local farmers markets.

DHS will continue to work with federal partners to provide greater assistance to Oregonians in need. To apply for Nutrition Assistance, visit needfood.oregon.gov or call 2-1-1.


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