PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Department of Human Services accidentally distributed $1.46 million of pandemic EBT to 3,700 students who were not eligible for the benefits.
According to an ODHS news release from Friday morning, the agency has since recovered $1.32 million of the pandemic EBT that was mistakenly issued.
ODHS officials report that they are partnering with Oregon school districts and the Department of Education to alert the affected families, who will soon receive a notice in the mail.
In a statement, Claire Seguin — interim director of the agency’s self-sufficiency programs — apologized for any confusion caused by the mistake. She also said that benefit recipients who used the funds would not be penalized for doing so.
“We know that this can be confusing for families right now,” Seguin said. “Families who were mistakenly issued these food benefits were told that they were eligible for the program and entitled to use the benefits to buy food for the students and children in their households.”
Agency officials say the wrongly-distributed food benefits are a result of a similar mishap from 2021, in which Oregon’s P-EBT vendor mistakenly issued $7.8 million in food benefits to some of the same students.
The affected schools included Ridgeview Elementary, Meadow Park Middle and Crane Union High. ODHS’ former director of self-sufficiency issued a similar statement at the time, saying that families who used the food benefits would not be penalized.
P-EBT was made available in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to qualify for the summer 2022 food benefits, students had to be eligible for the free or reduced National School Lunch Program or attend a Community Eligibility Provision school during the prior school year. ODHS says SNAP recipients at or younger than the age of 5 were also eligible for P-EBT during summer 2022.