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Pandemic EBT cards to provide one-time benefit to defray food costs for K-12 students during COVID-19 outbreak

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.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina's Department of Social Services (DSS) announced that the state has been given approval by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide a a one-time benefit to help supplement family food costs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and prolonged school closures through the USDA's Pandemic EBT program (P-EBT).

As many as 467,000 K-12 students in South Carolina, who qualify for free or reduced-price meals (FRP), are expected to receive this benefit.   

According to the press release:

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 cancelled.  For South Carolina, this equates to 58 days (March 16 – June 3). At $5.70 per day, each child who was enrolled in a free or reduced-price (FRP) meals program in March will receive $330.  

SNAP households with a qualifying child(ren) will automatically receive their P-EBT benefit on their regular EBT card on July 7th OR on their normal monthly SNAP issuance date, whichever is later. For children who were enrolled in a FRP meals program as of March 13th and are not receiving SNAP, DSS expects to begin mailing new P-EBT debit cards to the home address on file with the school district on July 20th. 

Food purchasing with the P-EBT benefit is subject to the same restrictions as EBT cards issued for SNAP recipients and cards may be used at any store that accepts SNAP. Recipients will have one full year to use the benefit before it expires and receipt of P-EBT does not preclude participation in summer feeding programs or other community-based food programs for children and families.

DSS is partnering with the South Carolina Department of Education to identify those students eligible for FRP meals and sharing the necessary data to enable families to receive this much-needed assistance without having to apply for it.

The P-EBT program results from concerns that, with schools closed, children were eating more meals at home and may have been missing meals if families were having to struggle with financial issues tied to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This might be the only way some of our most vulnerable children can obtain a nutritious breakfast or lunch and DSS appreciates the support of Congress, our Governor’s Office and the SC Department of Education to implement the program in our state,” DSS State Director Michael Leach said.

RELATED: SNAP food purchases can be made online in South Carolina pilot program