More than 460,000 children impacted by the pandemic to receive additional help buying food

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COLUMBIA, SC (WBTW) – South Carolina students in households receiving SNAP will receive a one-time benefit to help supplement family food costs.

The Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program provides a food benefit on an EBT card to South Carolina families whose children have access to free and reduced lunch at school. Families can use the P-EBT benefit for purchasing food items at EBT authorized retailers, including most major grocery stores.

Most P-EBT eligible families already receiving SNAP benefits will have the additional money put on their existing EBT cards on July 7 or on their normal monthly SNAP issuance date, whichever is later. As many as 467,000 K-12 students in South Carolina, who qualify for free or reduced-price meals, are expected to receive this benefit.

For children who were enrolled in a reduced meals program as of March 13 and are not receiving SNAP,  they will be mailed new P-EBT debit cards to the home address on file with the school district beginning July 20.

With prolonged school closures, children are consuming meals at home that they otherwise would have received at school through the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Program. This has exacerbated concerns about families’ food and financial security during this time, according to the state Department of Social Services.

“We know that schools in South Carolina do more than educate children; they provide them nutritious meals that many families depend on. Even during ordinary summers, many families struggle to keep children fed,” said DSS State Director Michael Leach. “Since schools closed much sooner due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students have lost access to a vital food resource.”

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, said, “The Pandemic EBT program will help ensure our most vulnerable students and their families have the resources needed to put food on the table during the summer so they are healthy and ready to learn when schools re-start in the fall.” 

Based on federal guidelines, the benefit amount for each child is based on a daily rate of $5.70, multiplied by the average number of days school was canceled. For South Carolina, this equates to 58 days (March 16 – June 3). At $5.70 per day, each child who was enrolled in a FRP meals program in March will receive $330. 

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