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'Are we going to get them?' Parents concerned about not getting P-EBT funds

Parents are concerned about not receiving new pandemic grocery funds.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Parents with school-age children were issued cards in previous years to purchase food. With the start of the new school year, they're wondering when or if those funds will be available.

The Department of Social Services initially issued Pandemic EBT cards to students during the pandemic while children were home. 

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"The premise for P-EBT was to help was to help families and caregivers who have had to feed children at home," Connelly-Anne Ragley with DSS said.

Mandy Toms the parent of an eight and nine-year-old, said she first got cards for them last year.

"I have two of the EBT cards from last year and I knew nothing about it, it was a surprise they just popped up in the mail and they were for my eight and nine-year-old," Toms said.

But this school year, Toms said she didn't find any new funds on her P-EBT account.

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"I checked it this morning and it still has nothing," she said.

Toms said she was concerned after her children's school district sent a message informing her the new P-EBT cards were coming but didn't say when.

"Are we going to get them? Is my eight and nine-year-old going to get them?" she said.

Ragley says some students who were previously eligible for the under-six program, won't receive funds this year because of age restrictions.

"She does not qualify if she has an eight-year-old and a nine-year-old the current program that has been announced is zero to six. And the department is working on that application for the next round, which would be that K through 12," Ragley said.

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Qualifications for the zero to six program:

  • MUST live with someone who receives regular SNAP benefits.
  • MUST be younger than six-years-old

The zero to six program is separate from the K through 12 program. In order to qualify for K through 12 students must be older than six-year-old. 

Under K through 12 Toms' children qualify.

"We have been approved to issue zero to six P-EBTs. So that's for children zero to six, in which someone in their household, an adult in their household, received regular SNAP benefits," Ragley said.

DSS is still awaiting approval for benefits for students older than age six or the K through 12 program. 

Once the P-EBT funds are issued they last up to 270 days. If the money is not used in that nine-month period it will disappear. 

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