TENNESSEE, USA — Parents have until Aug. 14 to apply for pandemic food assistance in Tennessee.
The "pandemic electronic benefit transfer program" or P-EBT, is an option for families with children who receive free or reduced meals at school.
The program gives families who qualify $5.70 per child per day missed in the spring from March to May. Families who already receive SNAP benefits were automatically enrolled for the program.
Many families are still waiting for their card in the mail. Greene County mom Brooke Rominger received hers at the end of July after applying in the middle of June.
She has one 9-year-old son named Lane, so she received about $250. She used the card for the first time over the weekend and said it was like a weight lifted off her shoulders.
"I don't know if other parents are like me, but certainly every little bit helps especially when you're going to the grocery store," Rominger explained.
She and her family had to wait one and a half months until she was able to swipe it at the grocery store and many other families are in the same boat.
The state said the wait is longer for parents who have already applied because of the high demand.
"Those kids were missing out on those meals that they typically would have gotten," Rominger explained. "Now, it's obviously come later, but it's kind of working out because now the school year is starting back."
Rominger is a respiratory therapist, tending to COVID-19 patients daily. Her third grader son Lane has special needs and is learning virtually this school year.
He goes to an all free and reduced meal school, so even though Rominger doesn't qualify for SNAP benefits, she was still able to take advantage of the government P-EBT program.
"Even with school going back virtually, you know your kids still need things," Rominger said. "But it just takes a little bit of that burden off of you at least for a couple of trips to the grocery store."
She posted to Facebook, encouraging other parents to do the online application process, aiming to end the stigma sometimes associated with accepting government benefits.
"You know, we deserve them, our kids deserve them," Rominger encouraged.
She said the wait was worth the food now on her son's plate.
If your child receives free and reduced lunch and you do not already have SNAP benefits, log on to tdhs.gov to sign up.