By Sam Woods
This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee. Visit milwaukeenns.org.
FoodShare emergency allotments will end after February due to changes in federal law.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, FoodShare recipients have received an additional “emergency allotment” on top of their monthly FoodShare payments.
The allotments bring each recipient’s monthly payment up to the maximum allotment for their household size or an extra $95 if they already qualified for an amount within $95 of the maximum benefit.
These emergency allotments were in place to help people with low income during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a stakeholder call on Wednesday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services confirmed that these emergency allotments will end after February because of the 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act, the annual federal spending bill signed into law on Dec. 29.
On the same day, the federal government renewed the public health emergency through at least April 10.
Previously, these emergency allotments were tied to the existence of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency, but the new spending bill decouples this money from the public health emergency and sunsets the spending after February.
January and February FoodShare payments will still include the emergency allotments. Those payments are scheduled to be in FoodShare members’ accounts on Jan, 22 and Feb. 19, respectively.
New spending bill also caps Summer P-EBT payments at $120
The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, or P-EBT, will continue for this school year and this summer. This money is meant to offset the costs of meals for children who did not receive free school breakfast and lunch because of COVID-19.
The new federal law institutes two main changes for P-EBT.
For this school year, parents of students who are eligible for free school meals (this includes all MPS schools) are eligible for $8.18 per day that their child missed school due to COVID-19 reasons or were learning virtually, and thus did not receive free breakfast or lunch. More information please visit https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/forwardhealth-pebt.htm.
Also parents who enrolled their children in fully virtual schools or have begun home-schooling since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible to receive benefits.
For Summer P-EBT, parents should expect substantially less in payments than in previous years. While parents of eligible children received $375 and $391 in 2021 and 2022, respectively, payments are capped at $120 for this summer.
For questions about P-EBT, email PEBTsupport@wisconsin.gov or call 833-431-2224.