(The Center Square) – Working with the New Mexico Public Education Department, the New Mexico Human Services Department issued the final round of Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer to 252,000 K-12 New Mexico students this month.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided New Mexico with over $30 million in additional food benefits for New Mexico to help provide food for over 252,000 New Mexican children during the summer months.
Students who attended New Mexico schools during the 2022-2023 school year and were eligible for free or reduced-priced meals for Breakfast/Lunch through the National School Lunch Program are eligible for the funding. Additionally, children who received free meals through the Community Eligibility Provision are eligible.
“As we wrap up the last issuance of federal pandemic-era food assistance for children, HSD is reinforcing our commitment to ensure low-income families in New Mexico receive the resources they need to thrive,” Kathy Slater-Huff, HSD Acting Deputy Secretary, said in a press release from the New Mexico Human Services Department.
Secretary of Public Education Arsenio Romero said the benefit will help low-income families provide food for their children.
“We are grateful for the partnership across agencies to make sure that our students and their families get the most out of this federal support,” Romero said. “We all recognize how crucial food access is and are glad to be a part of making sure our families have what they need to succeed.”
The Public Education Department finds students eligible for free or reduced-priced meals and shares this information with HSD. Then, HSD issues food benefits onto P-EBT cards, which the state mails to eligible households or loads onto an existing EBT card.
Eligible households will get $120 per child; the money will help cover the cost of meals that schools otherwise would have provided.
One can use the P-EBT card to purchase eligible food items from authorized retailers, similar to a regular EBT card.
The state started making deposits and mailing out new cards on September 12. It mailed out the final cards on September 25.
The state mailed out 52,000 new cards for children eligible for the program. Typically, it takes seven to 10 business days for families to get their new cards.
HSD urges people to hold onto their cards even after the P-EBT program ends.
“These cards will be useful for the upcoming new summer EBT program, which will replace P-EBT next year,” the release explains. “This likely means that benefits for the new program may be loaded onto the same cards, simplifying the process for families and reducing administrative costs.”
Those who have not received their benefit or card by October 7, 2023, are urged to call HSD at 1-800-283-4465.
One can view the benefit amount issued based on each school schedule here.