Charleston, W.Va. – West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced today there will be a third round of the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits allocated to eligible students who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will continue to be administered through the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR).
On February 18, 2022, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the issuance of a third round of P-EBT for students who would have received free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program if their schools were not closed or operating at reduced attendance hours due to COVID-19.
“I am once again grateful for an additional round of this extremely important funding,” Gov. Justice said. “Our children are our greatest treasure in West Virginia and making sure our kids have enough to eat is absolutely the most important thing we can do. I commend our state agencies that have worked with these federal resources, so our children have access to the meals they need.”
Since 2020, P-EBT funding has resulted in more than $328 million in food assistance support for West Virginia children, and an estimated $82 million is expected as a part of the next round of benefits. This projected amount is lower than the previous school year’s amount and is consistent with the predominant in-person learning model in West Virginia schools.
“While we may be working through phases of the pandemic, child nutrition needs will always be among our chief concerns,” said State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “We know these extended benefits are meeting a critical need to sustain development and learning among our children.”
The DHHR will roll out benefits in April 2022 and apply them retroactively to the beginning of the school year. Families with eligible students can expect to receive a single issuance for the fall 2021 term and two additional payments for the spring 2022 term. Households will receive a letter from the DHHR about their student’s P-EBT benefit with important information.
Students who received P-EBTs last school year will have new benefits loaded onto their existing cards, provided the student is still eligible for free or reduced-price school meals and has had in-person learning disrupted due to COVID-19. Newly eligible students will receive a special-issued card in the mail.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has provided uncertain times in our schools,” said Cabinet Secretary for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bill J. Crouch. “It is our hope that these payments will assist families in keeping children nourished and ready to learn.”
The DHHR will open a call center mid-March to assist with questions. That number will be posted on the wvpebt.org site when it is operational.