Pa. rolls out new pandemic food assistance program

    (Image via Flickr Commons)

    Pennsylvania will begin distributing emergency food assistance funds to eligible residents later this week, the state’s top human services official said Thursday, throwing an important lifeline to families struggling to put food on the table during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Speaking to reporters during an online briefing, state Human Services Department Secretary Teresa Miller said the program is one of two new efforts intended to assist residents who are struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “This week we’ve begun distributing food assistance dollars to families with school aged children through a new program called the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program, or P-EBT,” Miller said. “This program is temporary and designed to help bridge the gap left by schools closing due to the COVID-19 crisis.”

    The Wolf administration received approval for this program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture “to extend additional support to families with children who, when they’re in school, receive free and reduced price meals through the National School Lunch Program,” Miller said. 

    This program will provide assistance to the families of more than 950,000 children, Miller continued. 

    The other initiative, the Emergency Assistance Program, “provides a one-time cash benefit to families who’ve experienced a significant income reduction or complete job loss due to COVID-19,” Miller said.

    The goal, Miller explained, is to “avoid long term destabilization after a job loss or loss of income.”

    Correspondent Hannah Miller covers Erie and northwestern Pennsylvania for the Capital-Star. Follow her on Twitter @HannahMcD0nald.