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DoHS and WVDE Announce Launch of Summer EBT Program for West Virginians

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Human Services (DoHS), in conjunction with the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE), today announced the launch of a new federal public benefit program to support school-age children residing in low-income households.

The West Virginia Summer EBT (WV-SEBT) program will provide short-term grocery benefit assistance to income-eligible households with school-age children during the summer months. The application period will open on April 22, 2024, and can be accessed at schoolcafe.com or by completing a paper application at a local DoHS county office.

“Ensuring every child has access to nutritious meals is a cornerstone of building strong, healthy communities,” said Janie Cole, DoHS Bureau for Family Assistance Commissioner. “The launch of the WV-SEBT program represents a crucial step forward in supporting our state’s residents by providing essential grocery assistance during the summer months, as we maintain our commitment to fostering a brighter future for West Virginia children.”

Unlike Pandemic EBT (PEBT), which ended when federal emergency orders expired, not all children that attend a school where all students eat for free will automatically receive the benefit. Children will be deemed eligible based upon their household’s low-income status. Eligible children include those attending a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program and residing in a low-income household that qualifies for free or reduced-price school meals.
“Summer poses a significant challenge to children who are away from school and facing food insecurity,” said Michele L. Blatt, State Superintendent of Schools. “Even though students are out of school for the summer, hunger does not take a break, and this program is essential to meeting the nutritional needs of our school children. We know families continue to struggle from pandemic aftershocks, and the WV-SEBT program will fill an important nutrition gap for thousands of students.”

Additionally, if a West Virginia household is already receiving certain public benefits, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or WV WORKS, and has school-aged children between the ages of six and 17, those children will automatically be enrolled in Summer EBT, regardless of their method of schooling. Children in low-income households attending Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools, where they do not collect free or reduced-price meal applications, will have to complete an online Summer EBT application and qualify by income. 

All eligible children will receive their one-time benefit of $120 on a brand new Summer EBT card. Benefits will not be loaded onto previous PEBT cards or existing Mountain State EBT cards. Summer EBT cards will be mailed to the address on file with the child’s school or their public benefit case. Benefits are tentatively slated to reach eligible households in June 2024.

It is estimated that 202,000 children in West Virginia will be eligible for the 2024 Summer EBT benefit. The WV-SEBT program was authorized and approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

For more information, visit wvsebt.org or contact 1-866-545-6502.