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The Missouri Department of Social Services is to issue eligible families a one-time Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer for each child in a household who qualifies for free or reduced-price school meals.

The benefit, to be issued on Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, is to help pay the cost of food children would have eaten while at school during March, April and May, according to a DSS news release.

The benefit per child is $57 for March, $125 for April and $120 for May, so the maximum benefit per child is $302.

The state estimates about 458,000 children qualify for the benefit.

Households that qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Supplement Program (formerly Food Stamps) automatically get the benefit for each eligible child added to their EBT cards. Those households include 196,325 children.

Benefits will automatically be loaded to their cards this week.

All households that did not get a SNAP benefit in March must apply and provide income information for March, April and May to receive a P-EBT benefit for each month their children were eligible. The state estimates 137,723 households including 261,675 children could receive those benefits.

DSS, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Missouri school districts are cooperating to get applications to qualifying households. Those application forms are to be sent to families next week, according to the news release.

Households may complete the application sent from the school district by mailing the paper application before June 30 to DESE Food Nutrition Services, P.O. Box 480, Jefferson City, MO, 65102-0480; or online through PrimeroEdge, a program developed for school nutrition departments.

DESE will verify the students' eligibility for the free or reduced-price school meal program and will send all applications to the Family Support Division. Family Support will mail to approved applicants the EBT card with the benefit and instructions on its use.

Applicants who are not approved will receive a letter with contact information. If they disagree with the decision, they are encouraged to reach out.

For more information on the EBT cards, visit mydss.mo.gov/food-assistance/ebt.

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