(Jackson, Miss.) – The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) and the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) have received federal approval to distribute Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits to approximately 466,000 Mississippi children who participated in the National School Lunch Program or were under six (6) and received SNAP benefits during the 2021-22 school year or summer 2022 months.
In addition to the K-12 P-EBT benefit distributed in prior years, children under age six (6) who received SNAP benefits during the 2021-22 school year or summer 2022 have been approved to receive P-EBT benefits. An estimated 90,000 additional Mississippi children will receive benefits this year with the addition of SNAP under age six (6) children.
Children under six (6) who were members of an active SNAP case between August 2021 and July 2022 in Mississippi will receive one-time P-EBT benefits based on how many months they received SNAP benefits. To view a table of benefit amounts, please visit the MDHS P-EBT webpage (https://www.mdhs.ms.gov/pandemic-ebt-p-ebt/). Federal rules set these benefit amounts.
Families of students in K-12 who were eligible for the National School Lunch Program during the 2021-22 school year will receive a $391 one-time benefit for each child enrolled in the program. Eligibility for students enrolled in a Mississippi school is determined solely by their eligibility for Free or Reduced Priced Lunch under the National School Lunch Program at their school during the 2021-22 school year. Virtual or in-person learning modes will not be considered in determining eligibility or benefit amount.
P-EBT benefits can be used to purchase SNAP-eligible food items at stores that accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. All eligible children will be issued a new P-EBT card. For K-12 students, the P-EBT card will be mailed to the address provided by the child’s 2021-22 school district. For SNAP Under 6 children, the P-EBT card will be mailed to the family’s most updated address on file with the SNAP program.
Although all public-school children could access free meals during the 2021-22 school year, P-EBT benefits are limited to those deemed eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch under the National School Lunch Program by application or through either a school with Community Eligibility Provision status or a Provision 2 school.
Completing an application for free or reduced-price lunch during the 2022-23 school year will NOT make a child eligible for 2022 P-EBT benefits.
Before distribution of benefits to Mississippi children and families, MDHS and MDE must undertake administrative processes to ensure accurate distribution of funds:
· MDHS and MDE will work with school districts to gather student information.
· Work with the P-EBT processing vendor to manufacture, load, and distribute cards.
· Initiate a customer service call center with online options for parents and guardians to resolve issues with cards and benefits.
MDHS anticipates the distribution of these one-time P-EBT benefits in October 2022.
Eligible families are encouraged to monitor //www.mdhs.ms.gov/pandemic-ebt-p-ebt/ for additional updates, including information about a timeframe for the arrival of benefits, address updates, and call center operations.
MDE and MDHS oversee the distribution of P-EBT benefits in Mississippi. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service administers the program at the federal level.