Food assistance now available to families

    (Photo: Laura Olivas/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Laura Olivas/Getty Images)

    The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) announced on Monday that Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) is now available for families needing financial support to meet their children’s nutritional needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    TDHS in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) began providing P-EBT to families on Friday through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

    “The P-EBT program brings economic support to ensure children receive the nutrition they need. Helping families through this emergency is how we continue building a thriving Tennessee,” said TDHS Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes.

    Families who do not currently receive SNAP or TANF can apply for P-EBT until the application period ends June 29, 2020.

    Families receive $5.70 a day per child, as determined by the daily cost of a school breakfast and lunch in Tennessee, and have access to the funds through an EBT card used for separate summer food programs designed to help families living on the poverty line.

    The program is expected to reach 663,000, or 66% of children in participating schools.

    P-EBT originally rolled out as an emergency program through CARES Act to replace missing meals from schools that had closed due to COVID. Before the program reached Tennessee, schools used innovative ways to continue feeding needy children, including drive-throughs and bus deliveries.

    States needed to submit a plan to reach qualifying families, and Tennessee applied for P-EBT on April 16 and was approved a little over a month later.

    “Families across our state depend on the meals their children receive at school and many were not prepared to immediately replace those meals when schools shut down for COVID-19,” said Barnes.

    Families with general questions or needing help with the application can call 1 833-496-0661.