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Nutrition advocacy group urges state to improve enrollment of families in Pandemic-EBT program

Posted at 10:07 PM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 23:59:13-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — The state has extended food assistance for families during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, advocates with the Tennessee Justice Center are asking the state to do a better job reaching out to those in need.

State officials announced that Tennessee families are now eligible to receive financial support for their children’s nutritional needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read More: COVID-19 food assistance application deadline extended

Under the new P-EBT program, families of children who receive free or reduced meals at school may receive financial assistance to replace school meals during the months of March, April and May due to COVID-19 school closures.

According to TJC, 388,000 children in Tennessee must apply to receive benefits many states don’t require an application.

In the first week only 23,709 children were approved for P-EBT missing about 94% of all who need to apply.

The Tennessee Justice Center says the state needs to automatically enroll eligible families similar to other states.

"We would like the state to identify those families and give them the pandemic EBT. other states like Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina have all do it this way and we think it’s a good idea for Tennessee to do the same," said Signe Anderson, nutrition director.

Anderson says 330,000 children who are in families who receive SNAP or TANF automatically receive benefits.

She also says if the state allows to automatically enrolled the thousands of more who need assistance, about $180 million would be spent at food retailers across Tennessee if the state got benefits to all families that are eligible

The Tennessee Justice Center says families with children and pre-school who attend schools that serve free and reduced-price meals as a part of the National School Lunch Program are also eligible for P-EBT.

  • If families participated in the free meal pick-up that many schools offered, this does not disqualify families from participating in P-EBT.
  • The application is only available in English so Conexion created a video in Spanish with instructions on how to apply, which can be found on its Youtube channel.
  • Here’s the on-line application: https://tdhs.service-now.com/relief?id=relief_registration

The application deadline is July 13.