NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) told ABC 24 Wednesday that the state will participate in the federal Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) program for school year 2021-2022.
According to the department, state officials, collaborating with the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS), submitted an initial plan to the federal government, but that plan was sent back for resubmission.
The P-EBT program was put in place during the 2020-2021 school year to replace meals lost by children as schools and child care facilities closed or restricted their in-person schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program was renewed for the 2021-2022 school year, but some reports claimed only eight states had reapplied for the program.
TDOE said they have revised their portion of the plan, and TDHS is in the process of revising theirs.
TDOE believes that upon resubmission, the state's plan will be approved, at which point they will immediately begin the process of issuing benefits to qualifying families in all parts of the state.
To qualify for P-EBT benefits, students must meet the following criteria:
- the student would have received free or reduced price school meals if not for the COVID health emergency.
- the student does not receive free or reduced-price meals at the school because the school is closed or has been operating with reduced attendance or hours for at least 5 consecutive days due to the COVID emergency in the current school year.
State officials say if qualifying students meet eligibility requirements, benefits will be issued on existing P-EBT cards that families have received previously.