Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Food benefits coming soon for young children

 


Families with young children will get a little more help purchasing groceries soon. While hungry school children have been able to take advantage of Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) food benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, for the first time, many of Minnesota’s youngest children will now be eligible for food benefits through the new P-EBT 5 and Younger program.

Beginning in late May, the Minnesota Department of Human Services will issue the first set of benefits – $75 per child per month – for approximately 81,000 children who were 5 years old or younger on Oct. 1, 2020, and who have been enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Minnesota Family Investment Program or Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in any month since Oct. 1, 2020.

Families do not need to take any action for their children to receive this benefit. The Department of Human Services will notify families via text or U.S. mail if they are eligible for P-EBT 5 and Younger. Families who have not been receiving P-EBT texts can sign up for them by completing the P-EBT Help Form.

P-EBT 5 and Younger applies from October 2020 through May 2021 and will only be issued for months in which children did not receive a school-based P-EBT benefit. Families with more than one child 5 years old and younger will receive a benefit for each child.

“The P-EBT 5 and Younger program will ensure more children eat healthy meals each day,” said Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. “While we are pleased we’ve been able to help hundreds of thousands of school children so far, we recognize that many more children – the youngest – still need help.”

New school-based benefit also available

About 14,000 additional children, some of whom were 5 years and younger, may now qualify for a school-based P-EBT benefit if they are approved to receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program. Beginning in May, the Department of Human Services will send new P-EBT cards already loaded with benefits based on the school’s learning model for each eligible child for September 2020 through February 2021. After that, cards will be loaded with additional monthly benefits for eligible children.

“Ensuring our youngest Minnesotans are receiving meals is critical to their growth and development,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller. “I’m excited the P-EBT program is expanding to serve children ages 5 and younger so all Minnesota children can access the meals they need.”

What families should do

The Minnesota Department of Human Services urges families to make sure their children’s schools have their current information, including a completed application for free and reduced-price meals, before the end of the school year so that they will be considered for P-EBT benefits.

There are some instances where children may qualify for a P-EBT 5 and Younger benefit through their public assistance eligibility and through their school-based eligibility. In those instances, the child would receive the school-based benefit only. Not all young students, including those in Head Start programs, are eligible for the school-based benefit. However, these children may still be eligible for a P-EBT 5 and Younger benefit.

By the end of May, nearly 286,000 Minnesota children age 18 and younger will have received school-based P-EBT benefits, and Minnesota will have issued approximately $175 million in school-based P-EBT benefits for the 2020-2021 school year.

More information

For answers to questions, families can get assistance in multiple languages by completing the P-EBT Help Form or by calling the P-EBT Hotline at 651-431-4608 or 833-454-0153 Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning in early June. The hotline staff do not have access to case-specific information about P-EBT 5 and Younger so cannot answer individual eligibility questions until early June. For school-based benefits questions, families should contact the hotline; schools do not have capacity to field these calls at this time.

 

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