Deadline approaching for Minnesota students to receive special COVID-19 food funds
Assistance for Minnesota families struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic is set to expire in the coming days.
The pandemic electronic benefit transfer program or (P-EBT) is a temporary food benefit program for school-age children who would have received free or reduced-price meals if schools were open, but the deadline is approaching to apply for benefits on July 31st.
Minnesota’s Department of Human Services said more than 134,000 students are eligible but have yet to apply, based on data from last week.
The families of qualifying school-age children can receive upwards of $425 (includes special $100 summer payment) per child through the P-EBT program according to the state.
More than $70 million in benefits have been issued to over 216,000 children through last week, which represents approximately one in four children enrolled in Minnesota schools, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
"Access to healthy and nutritious food through the school meal program is critical to so many families across the state," said DHS Assistant Commissioner Nikki Farago.
Farago said that extra money through P-EBT can bring help to families along with other food assistance programs to get through the time schools have been closed.
"My hours at my job have been cut, I still have the same bills, got to pay my rent, my utilities and normal bills," said Andrea, a mother of two school-aged children in St. Paul. “My income isn’t what it used to be, any help is welcome."
Andrea, whose last name we’re not using, said she applied back in early June for P-EBT but only received the card Wednesday.
DHS posted on its website, “Due to a high volume of applications, it is taking longer than expected to issue P-EBT cards.”
"We’re trying to pull together working with our partners at Department of Education, to make sure we are getting to the families that we can, and it always takes a bit of extra time," said Farago.
According to DHS, here are the qualifications for those applying for P-EBT:
- Families with children ages 5 to 18, as of Sept. 1, 2019, are eligible for P-EBT benefits if:
- Their child’s school is closed due to COVID-19; and
- They were receiving supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) or Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) benefits as of March 18, 2020; or
- Their child was receiving free or reduced-price school meals during the 2019-2020 school year; or
- Their child is enrolled in a school that offers free school meals to all students.
Families with children ages 3 to 5, as of Sept. 1, 2019, are eligible for P-EBT benefits if:
- Their child attended a school-district run pre-K program during the 2019-2020 school year, or
- Their child was receiving free or reduced-price school meals or attended a school that offers free school meals to all students.