JACKSON — Families of Mississippi children who qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school will receive deposits later this fall that can be used to buy fruit, meat and other foods.
The money, provided through the U.S. government’s Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program, is meant to make up for the cost of providing food to children during the summer months and during the academic year when schools were closed because of the pandemic.
Around $246 million will be disbursed by late October, the Mississippi Department of Human Services said in a news release Monday.
The money can be used for fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, bread, cereals and snack foods. It also can be spent on seeds and plants that grow food.
About 345,000 Mississippi children qualify for the summer benefit of $375 per child. The payment will be provided to each child who was eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunch during the 2020-21 school year.
Around 185,000 Mississippi students will receive money if they attended a school that had a predominately hybrid or virtual schedule for at least one month of the 2020-21 school year. The amount that families will receive will vary depending on how much time their school district spent learning virtually during the year.
Children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals based on income. For example, a family of four in Mississippi is eligible if the household income is below $49,025 before taxes, according to benefits.gov.
Money will be accessible via P-EBT cards sent to families’ homes using addresses provided by the Department of Education. Parents can activate the cards by calling 1-866-512-5087. This phone number is printed on the back of the card.