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District encouraging families to apply for cash benefit from free or reduced lunches

Families of school-age children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches will be receiving some help from the government.

Warren County School District is encouraging families to apply. In fact, the district has sent letters to families and instructions on how to apply.

The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 — Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program — will send cash cards (or put additional funds on existing EBT cards) to those families.

The amount is based on $5.70 for each school-age child for every day schools were closed since March 16 (up to 65 days).

The maximum benefit per student is $370, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).

“I think this is a good thing for families in Warren County that are struggling right now,” Warren County School District Director of Business Services Jim Grosch said.

Families that have already applied for and qualify for free and reduced-prices lunches will receive the benefit.

All families of students in Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools will receive benefits for those students.

The CEP schools in Warren County School District are Sheffield Area Elementary School, Sheffield Area Middle High School, Warren Area Elementary Center, Youngsville Elementary School, and Youngsville Middle High School. At those schools, the income of the family makes no difference. Every family of students in those schools will receive the payment. There are other schools in the district that are close to the CEP threshold.

“We strongly encourage those families in the schools that are not already designated as CEP qualifying schools, to submit Free and Reduced Meal applications,” Grosch said. “Those schools where families would need to submit an application to potentially qualify for the P-EBT benefits are Eisenhower Elementary, Eisenhower Middle/High School, Beaty and Warren Area High School.”

“If not all of the school-aged children currently residing in your house are designated as Free, we encourage you to fill out an application,” Grosch said. “The PDE will be utilizing the WCSD PrimeroEdge system to determine who qualifies that is not currently a CEP school, or those that are not directly certified (SNAP, TANF, etc) through the state.”

The district has to put information into the system by May 29 and request that families fill out the applications by Wednesday, May 27.

“The Warren County School District is really hoping for a high response rate to this request,” he said. “We feel this program is in the best interest of our students and communities as a whole as it will help parents put much needed food on the table for their kids.”

Recent changes are included in eligibility.

Schools “should encourage households to apply for free or reduced-price school meals if there is a change in the household income due to loss of job or reduction in pay,” according to a release from the PDE. Families that already qualify for reduced may re-apply if their circumstances have changed. Families that move from reduced to free, that change would apply through the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

The date at which a family first qualified would determine their benefit, according to PDE. “Benefits for students who became eligible after March 16 will be calculated as follows:

Students who become eligible between March 17 and March 31 will receive the benefit for March 16 through June 12 (65 days);

Students who become eligible between April 1 and April 30 will receive the benefit for April 1 through June 12 (53 days);

Students who become eligible between May 1 and May 31 will receive the benefit for May 1 through June 12 (31 days), and;

Students who become eligible between June 1 and June 12 will receive the benefit for June 1 through June 12 (10 days).

The P-EBT program will not prevent the district from continuing its Grab-and-Go meal program.

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