Families in South Carolina Are Being Urged to Use Pandemic Food Help Before It Runs Out

Families in South Carolina Are Being Urged to Use Pandemic Food Help Before It Runs Out

Columbia, South Carolina: Millions of dollars in South Carolina pandemic food benefits that have not been used could run out in May.

The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer, or P-EBT, sent the money to thousands of South Carolina public school families over the course of four years. It did this in several rounds. These are meant to help pay for food that would normally be served at school.

The cards give each child $120 and can be used to buy food at any store that takes SNAP debit cards. They can get free or low-cost meals if they were accepted for them at the end of the 2022–2023 school year.

When P-EBT benefits are not used for 274 days, which is about nine months, they end on their own. That means the first cards were sent out on August 14, which is May 14th.

On top of that, families get an extra 274 days if they spend $1 or more.

In South Carolina, the P-EBT program was run by both DSS and the State Department of Education.

The state Department of Social Services says that over 68,000 cards have not yet been registered, which means that $8.1 million has not yet been spent.

Sue Berkowitz from the SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center said, “One in five kids are either at risk of going hungry or are going hungry. We want to make sure that people make the most of all the resources that are out there for them.”

Berkowitz said that the money isn’t being saved because people lose their cards, don’t want the help, or don’t know what they got in the mail, among other things. She also said that some cards might have been sent to the wrong place.

“Unfortunately, and I don’t mean this to be rude, but some people will always fall through the cracks,” Berkowitz said.

For each round of P-EBT, DSS left the Address Verification page on its website open for a few weeks to get people to verify their addresses.

Cards that couldn’t be delivered were sent back to the company that was supposed to handle them. DSS records show that 8,435 cards have been reissued in the last four years.

The State Department of Education told News 19 that they told school districts about the program in a number of different ways, including through social media posts on a number of different sites. They also held a webinar about the program with school officials.

The P-EBT program is also talked about in a lot of school texts to parents.

People in South Carolina have been sent 2.26 million cards with $1.04 billion worth of grocery help. DSS data shows that 90% of them were turned on.

Berkowitz said, “We should all admire everyone who is using any tool that’s out there to help their kids.”

The Department of Social Services has a website where you can find out more about the program.

Things that worry Berkowitz are that the program is ending at the same time that South Carolina is one of 15 states that chose not to participate in a permanent government summer food benefits program.

“They should be very worried about kids going hungry in the summer.” “Because kids who are hungry aren’t doing their best, and every kid should have the chance to do their best,” said Berkowitz.

Berkowitz said that she and her team will try to get McMaster to agree by the next due date of January 1, 2025.

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