Minnesota families to receive last rounds of pandemic food benefits for children

(ABC 6 News) – The Minnesota Department of Human Services said on Monday that eligible Minnesota families with children will start receiving pandemic food benefits for the current school year this month, and some families will get a final round of smaller summer benefits in July.

The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer payments, or P-EBT, are expected to be the last of their kind as the federal public health emergency for COVID-19 ends.

Since March 2020, Minnesota children have received more than $723 million through the P-EBT program, helping ease the stress of food insecurity that many families face especially when their children don’t get meals at school.

“Support for families facing food insecurity is an important investment in their health, well-being and ability to thrive,” said Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead.

P-EBT is a temporary food benefit for families whose children qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. Families receive $8.18 for each day a school-age child misses school because of a COVID impact. The Minnesota Department of Human Services issues the benefits, which are authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Beginning in May, P-EBT benefits totaling $10.4 million for the 2022-23 school year will go to the families of more than 29,000 students and 49,000 children ages 5 and younger. For the first time, some students who are homeschooled or attend online school will also be eligible, although their benefits will most likely arrive in July.

Summer food benefits will also go out in July to families of eligible students who attended school in person during the last month of the 2022-23 school year. This year’s summer benefit of $120 compares to $435 last summer. And with the May 11 end of the public health emergency, children under age 5, homeschooled students and students who attend virtual school are no longer eligible for summer P-EBT.

For school-year P-EBT, families with children 5 and younger in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Minnesota Family Investment Program or Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families will receive $35 a month for eligible months between September and December 2022, and a yet-to-be-determined amount for eligible months from January to May 2023.

School-year and summer benefits for school children will become available on P-EBT cards, which can be used to purchase food. Benefits for children 5 and younger will arrive on their family’s Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, cards.

The food benefits must be used within nine months. After that, they disappear from P-EBT and EBT cards and cannot be replaced.

For more information about P-EBT benefits, contact the P-EBT Call Center at 833-454-0153 or visit their website, HERE.