(KPLC) – P-EBT cards may be available to full-time students who participate in hybrid or virtual learning and qualify for free or reduced lunches.

The entire Calcasieu Parish school district has qualified for a program called Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which allows all students to eat free at school for the 2021-2022 school year.

Families participating in hybrid or virtual learning with questions about P-EBT may email info@cpsb.org.

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services created the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program in 2020 as the pandemic was beginning.

“The federal government recognizes that the poverty levels of food insecurity rate is so high,” Shavana Howard, with DCFS, said. “Those children who go to schools that are in a certain school district or parish are automatically eligible for free and reduced-price meals without completing an application.”

Though P-EBT and CEP are separate programs, both supplement the funds needed for student meals during the school year, which are determined by the school’s food insecurity level.

With over 40% of the district qualifying for free or reduced meals, that makes the whole district qualify for CEP — free lunches at school.

In the event a student doesn’t attend a school where a program like CEP is in place for the entire school, students who are eligible for free or reduced meals and are learning virtually or hybrid will still qualify for P-EBT.

Howard adds that parents didn’t need to fill out an application to have received their card, because that is done through the school itself. The amount of money each student receives is reflected by the need of virtual, hybrid, or in-person learning. Students do not receive P-EBT for in-person learning because they will be able to eat at school. If a school does return to virtual or hybrid learning this coming year, she said students will then be able to receive benefits.

The Calcasieu Parish School Board said this doesn’t affect the current distribution of P-EBT, since it is a reflection of the past school year. Last year, students must have qualified for free or reduced lunches or have attended a CEP school and have been virtual or hybrid to have received benefits. CPSB adds that last year students did eat free because of a disaster waiver, which is not the same as this year’s CEP.

Summer P-EBT benefits are currently being processed at this time. P-EBT funds for 2021-2022 have not been allocated to students yet.

DCFS said funds are distributed quarterly – August-October, November-January, February-May, and in the summer if applicable.

“This year’s P-EBT issuance is dependent on how you receive your method of education for the school year,” Howard said. “We recognize that, you know, there might be some families who don’t need, right? You know, they’re well off and they don’t need the benefits or the assistance, but the federal government recognizes that the poverty level is so high that it’s a blanket waiver for all the schools.”

To see the benefits your child has received, you can log into the portal using your child’s date of birth and student I.D. number. To access that portal, click HERE.

BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION!

Support LA CASA & invest in the future of Louisiana's children!

Take the first step to becoming a CASA advocate!

View job openings for Louisiana CASA and our 17 local programs.

G
E
T

I
N
V
O
L
V
E
D
C
L
O
S
E