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Food benefits headed to qualifying Tennessee families through pandemic EBT program

Parents of children who receive free or reduced school meals encouraged to confirm information online
Credit: Tennessee Department of Human Services

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Human Services has launched the 3rd round of its Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program.

This program provides food assistance to qualifying children who receive free or reduced school meals at school or attend a Community Eligibility Provision School and did not receive those meals because of virtual learning or school closure due to the pandemic.

As part of this round, new P-EBT cards will be mailed to qualifying students with benefits backdated to October. Unlike prior rounds, this card will be reloaded with benefits on an ongoing basis.

A website has also been set up for parents to check and verify their address is correct and make changes if necessary.  The deadline to make changes is March 14.

For eligibility assistance, parents can call the P-EBT Hotline at 833-496-0661. The department additionally worked with schools to provide a letter with additional guidance that families can be on the lookout for and support is always available online in Somali, Arabic, and Spanish languages.

Changes to P-EBT eligibility will allow for some students who didn’t qualify for the last round to participate this time. To be eligible for P-EBT Round 3:

  • The child must qualify for free or reduced-price school meals under the National School Lunch Program. This includes any student in a school that provided free meals to all students (under a special rule called "Community Eligibility Provision").
  • And, the child did not receive free or reduced-priced meals at the school because the school is closed to in-person learning; or has been operating with reduced attendance or hours for at least 5 consecutive days in the current school year.

P-EBT cards will be reloaded with benefits on a rolling basis as long as the USDA continues to fund the program. These P-EBT cards can be used like a debit card to purchase food at any establishment that accepts EBT or online with Amazon, Walmart, Aldi, Food Lion, and Superlo in Memphis.

The amount each student will receive varies based on the below learning schedule.

  • Students who are learning 100% virtually will receive $122.76 in P-EBT a month.
  • Students who are on a hybrid learning schedule will receive an amount based on the statewide average number of days students spent that month on hybrid schedules. For October 2020 that amount is $51.15.

P-EBT benefits were provided to more than 740,000 children during the first round of P-EBT for the spring 2020 school semester and another 364,000 children received benefits for the second round that ended in September.

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