Lewis, NY– The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance has begun to distribute Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) Benefits from the 2020-2021 School Year. For a second school year, New York State is providing benefits to families who would have received free breakfast and lunch at school but did not due to COVID-19 related closures or remote learning during the year.

Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Essex County and Adirondack Harvest has compiled a helpful resource for families who wish to spend their pandemic benefits on local food and at small businesses in their communities. They have created a guide to highlight where families can use P-EBT dollars to buy food grown and produced locally.

All students at Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools that provide free breakfast and lunch to all students, like Flanders, St. Joseph’s, and Davis Elementary Schools, Franklin Academy High School, and Malone Middle School, as well as students at any school that already receives free or reduced-price school meals, will receive this second round of P-EBT benefits. Find a full list of CEP schools here.

Qualifying families will receive benefits based on the number of days their school was closed or attendance was reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From New York State:

-”Children whose schools reported that their in-person school attendance was reduced by 1 to 12 days during a month, will receive $82 in P-EBT food benefits for that month.

-Children whose schools reported that their in-person school attendance was reduced for more than 12 days during a month, will receive $132 in P-EBT food benefits for that month

-Children whose schools reported that their in-person attendance was not reduced during a month due to COVID will not receive a benefit for that month.”

Families can use their P-EBT dollars anywhere that SNAP dollars are accepted. This includes many grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, farmers’ markets, and even farmstands.

Families can choose to spend a portion of their benefits to support small businesses and farms in their communities. Many local food SNAP vendors and farmers’ markets offer curbside pick-up, online ordering, and even local home delivery services. Families may even be able to take advantage of other programs to help their dollar stretch further. For example, qualifying families can utilize Adk Action’s 30% off coupons through their “Fair Food Pricing’’ program at farmers’ markets and retail locations, some of which offer home delivery.

On top of that, customers using SNAP and P-EBT dollars at qualifying retailers and farmers’ markets like the Massena Farmers’ market, can make use of the Double Up Food Bucks program, which gives shoppers an extra $2 for every $2 spent on local fruits and vegetables, up to $20 per visit.

April St. Onge, co-owner of Pat and April’s Pork in Fort Covington, New York, just north of Malone says that being able to accept SNAP and the new P-EBT benefits is very important to their business. She says that accepting SNAP benefits “allows us to sell meat to more people who care about where their food comes from. Buying locally allows families to get meats that are high quality with a great taste close to home.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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