While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause food insecurity, especially for children who aren’t getting meals at school or childcare centers, families with children age five and younger will soon get a little more help putting healthy meals on their tables.

Beginning in late June, the Minnesota Department of Human Services will begin issuing Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) food benefits of $30 per month per child to about 90,000 children for every month they were eligible for P-EBT from September to December 2021. The department will issue a second P-EBT for five and Younger benefit payment with a dollar amount yet to be determined later this summer for each month children were eligible from January to May 2022.

To qualify, children must have been five and younger on Sept. 1, 2021, and enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), or Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in any month from September 2021 to May 2022.

“We all know the strong link between nutritious eating and overall well-being and nutrition and academic achievement,” said Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. “Providing financial support to families facing food insecurities is an investment in our children, our economy, and our future.”

The department will send a text or email to families if they qualify for P-EBT for five and Younger benefits and issue them directly to families with existing Minnesota EBT cards. Families with more than one child five and younger will receive benefits for each eligible child. Parents do not need to take any action for their children to receive the P-EBT 5 and Younger benefit.

School-based benefits still available

Some children who are age five and younger may qualify for a school-based benefit if they are enrolled in an approved Pre-K program and approved to receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program or are eligible for SNAP, MFIP, or Tribal TANF. Eligible children will receive school-based benefits or P-EBT for five and Younger benefits each month they are eligible, but not both. Approved Pre-K programs include Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten and School Readiness programs.

“Meals are critical for our children’s health and well-being and provide them with the nutrition they need to learn and grow,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller. “I’m grateful the P-EBT program will continue to ensure our youngest Minnesotans have access to the meals they need.”

Since the start of the pandemic, the department has also issued P-EBT food benefits to children in grades K-12 who were out of school for reasons related to COVID and are not receiving free or reduced-price school meals as they normally would when they attended school.

With these P-EBT for five and Younger benefits, Minnesota will have issued an estimated $210 million in P-EBT benefits to families with children for the 2021-2022 school year.

More information a phone call away

For answers to questions, families can get assistance in multiple languages by completing the P-EBT Help Form or by calling the P-EBT Call Center at 651-431-4608 or 833-454-0153 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Families can also visit https://mn.gov/dhs/p-ebt/five-and-younger/ for additional information.

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