Latest round of P-EBT on its way to South Carolina families

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 9:40 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2021 at 9:41 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - In the next few weeks, many South Carolina families will soon have more money to provide healthy and nutritious food options for their kids.

The South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS), in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Education, is administering the next round of pandemic EBT (P-EBT) to eligible families across the state.

P-EBT as a whole is an optional federal program that South Carolina participates in, designed to offer food benefits to children who may have temporarily lost access to free and reduced-price meals due to COVID-19 or the summer.

RELATED STORY | Students who receive free or reduced-price school meals will get federal food

DSS says 505,000 children statewide are eligible for the Summer K-12 Pandemic EBT Program, which comes in a one-time, per-child payment of $375.

This is the third round of P-EBT food benefits. Parents do not have to apply, and unlike the previous round, students do not have to be attending school virtually to be eligible.

“We put tangible funds in their hands, and in this case in their wallets, because we know that sometimes children may only receive the food that they receive during the school day, (it) may be their only meal,” Connelly-Anne Ragley, DSS Communications and External Affairs Director, said. “And so this is an opportunity, especially for children that may be at home now for various reasons, to help supplement that family budget.”

There are three categories of eligibility requirements. First, any student who received these benefits during the last month of the 2020-2021 school year is automatically eligible for the current round of funds. This includes students who may have graduated.

Second, any student who was eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program during the 2020-2021 school year, but didn’t receive the benefits in the second round because they attended school in person.

Third, any students determined to be newly eligible for free or reduced-price school meals during the covered summer months.

Parents may be wondering why this round of summer P-EBT is arriving for the fall. DSS says this benefit requires a detailed distribution plan that must be approved by the Food and Nutrition Service at the US Department of Agriculture.

“Like everything with covid things are a little bit on a delayed scale, but our staff has been working for months to make sure that these funds are distributed and in an approved fashion that can help South Carolina’s families,” Ragley said.

While the majority of the funds will be automatically deposited onto P-EBT cards, newly enrolled parents may need to wait until the end of September for theirs to arrive.

When asked about a potential fourth round of P-EBT for the 2021-2022 school year, Ragley said that would take federal action.

“We don’t have any information on that and we would be just kind of in a holding pattern until we learn more from the federal government,” she said.

If parents are curious whether their child is enrolled in the National School Lunch Program, DSS encourages them to check with their local school or district. DSS uses this information to determine eligibility.

For more information, like which retailers accept P-EBT, visit the DSS Frequently Asked Questions page.

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