HPS Asks Parents to Enable Free Benefit

HOPE — The Hope Public Schools is asking parents to confirm the addresses of their students for the district to ensure the eligibility of all HPS students to receive a new, direct, one-time state meals-related benefit free.

The unique circumstance of the COVID-19 crisis has already resulted in the Hope Public Schools extending free meal services to students under age 18; but, now it has created an opportunity for every student in the district to receive an additional meals-related benefit free.

HPS Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart announced the realization of the benefit for students in a memo to parents June 5.

“In response to the COVID-19 health emergency, a benefit program called Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) has been developed for states to implement in assisting families that were receiving free or reduced lunches from their school,” Dr. Hart said. “The program was designed to help replace the cost of meals incurred by families as a result of the state eliminating public school gatherings.”

He said because the HPS participates in a U.S. Department of Education program that supplements funding to provide free or reduced meals to students based upon poverty level data, the one-time P-EBT benefit is potentially available to every HPS student’s family.

The inability of students to receive daily nutrition through the school system is a key component. The benefit will be administered through a mechanism used in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) called an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card.

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“Eligible students and families will receive food benefits on a new or existing EBT card to help fill the school meals gap,” Hart said.

He said HPS students may qualify regardless whether their families participate in the SNAP system.

“This will be paid in a one-time payment of $319 per eligible child,” Hart said. “Benefits will be issued to a SNAP household on their existing EBT card. If a household has had their SNAP case close in the last six months, benefits will be issued on that household’s existing EBT card.”

Non-SNAP households will be eligible to receive EBT cards with the name of each student on them, and can activate the card by following instructions attached to the card, he said.

Hart said cards are expected to be issued by the end of June or in early July, but the district needs correct address information for every student to assist in the process.

“Addresses may not be up to date for students receiving the P-EBT card due to schools closing in March,” he said. “Non-SNAP household parents can call Client Assistance at 1-800-482-8988, or email their address change to [email protected] online.”

New address changes will be recorded until June 15 to be forwarded to a vendor for card issuance, he said.

“SNAP households should follow the same DCO business process that is in place by reporting their changes to Client Assistance or their local county office,” Hart said.

Parents whose family does not participate in SNAP who wish to verify a correct address for their child should contact their child’s school district office for that information. The Hope Public Schools may be reached by calling 870-722-2700.

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