New Summer Food Benefits Surface for MN Children / Public News Service

Hunger-fighting groups say when children have trouble accessing food over the summer, they might not challenge themselves as much intellectually, which puts them behind in the next school year. (Adobe Stock)

In the coming days, many Minnesota families with young children – dealing with food insecurity – should see some financial aid to help get them through the rest of the summer.

Minnesota has been approved for another round of funding under the federal Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer initiative. For qualifying households, money is loaded onto EBT debit cards that can be used at grocery stores and farmers markets.

The state says most eligible families don’t need to apply and will receive the benefits automatically. Tikki Brown, assistant commissioner of children and family services at the Department of Human Services, said the latest distribution of aid is very timely.

“With inflation and with gas prices and just rising expenses,” said Brown, “many families will feel an extra burden when trying to feed their family during the summer months.”

Overall, more than 400,000 Minnesota kids are expected to receive the extra help. It goes to households that have children approved for free or reduced-price meals in the last school year.

And funds will go to kids five and under whose families are enrolled in programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). For those eligible but not signed up for these programs, there are application deadlines for later in the summer.

Details and applications can be found on the Department of Human Services website.

Brown said a lot of community programs also help with summer meal needs for kids. This latest burst of funding could help with service gaps.

“Especially in rural parts of our state, where access might be an issue or transportation might be an issue,” said Brown, “this electronic benefit provides a lot more access and ease in buying food for families.”

Starting in September, all benefits will be removed from these cards after nine months of not being used. And once that happens, the benefits cannot be replaced.

Minnesota is one of 27 states to be approved for the new round of P-EBT funding after submitting an application.

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