MONTVILLE — A nondescript envelope addressed to students with an Austin, Texas, return address, delivered recently to households across the state, has many people wondering if this letter is a scam. 

The letter reads, “Here is your P-EBT Card,” which provides extra food benefits for children receiving free or reduced meals in schools. The instructions go on to say to call a customer service 1-800 number to select a personal identification number to start using the card.

Regional School Unit 3 Nutrition Director Tina Fabian said the letter and card indeed are real and the card represents a benefit of $59 per child per month for students at RSU 3 schools. 

When asked if parents of students can use the card, Fabian said she assumed so, but added there has been little information provided with the program. “It’s for the child,” she said. Everyone in the RSU 3 district qualifies for the grant, she said.

According to the website under the Department of Health and Human Services food supplement initiatives, the Pandemic Electronic Transfer (P-EBT) program benefits children who are eligible to receive free or reduced meals. Maine DHHS, in collaboration with the State Office for Family Independence, is administering the Department of Agriculture grant.

Officials at DHHS said any family member can use the P-EBT card to purchase supplemental food for the student named on the card. To initialize the card, a call to customer service is needed where the last four digits of the student’s social security number will be asked to be entered. The cards have four months of benefits, or $236 in RSU 3’s case, which can be used wherever EBT cards are accepted such as Hannaford or Walmart. 

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