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Ohio children to get SNAP benefits for summer

Students who are eligible for free and reduce price meals will receive a one-time bonus to help them eat this summer.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will send out SNAP benefits to every child in Ohio who qualify for the free and reduced price meals. About 850,000 Ohio children will qualify. Parents do not need to apply for the benefits, as any child eligible as of April 29 should receive the funds.

“Food budgets have been stretched thin as a result of the pandemic,” said ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall. “We are grateful to be able to provide this extra help to families, especially since some children may not be able to access emergency school or community meal locations.”

The benefits will be for part of March, and all of April and May. For March, the total benefits will be $302.10 and for April, the amount will be $239.40. May’s benefits have not yet been totaled, but all funds will be one lump sum payment per child.

The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 provided the secretary of agriculture with the authority to approve states to implement a temporary program called Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer. The program provides children in kindergarten through 12th grade who are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals with SNAP benefits.

In Washington County’s two largest school districts, Marietta City and Warren Local, more than 2,000 students will receive the funds.

“We run about 52 to 54 percent, so for us, we have about 2,500 kids enrolled,” said Marietta City Schools Superintendent Will Hampton. “We’re looking at about 1,300 kids (who qualify). It’s creeped up to over 50 percent in the last couple of years.”

Warren Local Schools had 785 eligible students in April, up from 736 in March.

“Warren Middle had 231 students, Little Hocking had 129, Warren Elementary had 242 and Warren High School had 183,” said Charlene Fronko, Warren’s food service director.

ODJFS estimates that it will issue $150.9 million to 506,953 children in SNAP households and $103.6 million to 343,047 children in non-SNAP households.

Bret Crow, ODJFS director of communications, said they are working on getting the benefits out. They will be sent out in two batches – one to children who currently receive SNAP benefits, and one to those who do not.

According to the ODJFS, benefits will be provided on EBT cards that are mailed to the families, who can then use the cards to purchase groceries. New cards will be mailed out for those who do not currently receive SNAP benefits. If the child already receives them, the benefits will be added to their card.

Crow said ODJFS is working on getting the payments out.

“I don’t know if we have a definitive time frame, but we have to work through our vendor, who is getting new cards for people who aren’t signed up for SNAP right now,” he said, noting it will be a week to 10 days before cards are received.

“If you already have SNAP, you’ll get it sooner,” he added.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

By the numbers:

• 850,000 children in Ohio receive free or reduce-price meals.

• 506,953 children are in SNAP households.

• 343,047 children are in non-SNAP households, but qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

• About 1,300 students in the Marietta City Schools district qualify for free or reduce-price meals.

• Almost 790 students are eligible in the Warren Local School district.

• Each child eligible will receive benefits for each day a school is closed.

Source: Times research.

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