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DHSS has issued $5.45 million so far in P-EBT for students

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — As of Monday, the Department of Human Social Services has issued $5,458,180 to 11,997 school children from 5,406 households for the Summer Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (Summer P-EBT).

This is according to the DHSS Director, Muavaefa’atasi John Suisala in response to questions from Samoa News.

“As you know, USDA Food and Nutrition Service approved our application for $6,400,000 to issue Summer P-EBT benefits to approximately 14,000 school children. 

“As of the close of business Monday, we have a balance of $941,820 in benefit funds for 2,003 school children. 

“According to our records, 735 active/ approved households have yet to pick up benefits for their school children. 

“The last day to pick up Summer P-EBT benefits is April 14, 2023.  Summer P-EBT benefits (food coupons) expire on April 30, 2023.  As a reminder, the Regular P-EBT Program benefits that we issued between August 15, 2022, and December 30, 2022, expire on February 28, 2023.”

According to the director, they have not experienced any further challenges.

Regarding concerns that people are using food stamps  to purchase goods sent to their families in Samoa, the director said the goal is to provide thousands of American Samoa families with additional resources to buy food for their children during the summer. 

“The Summer P-EBT Program provides benefits (food coupons) for all public and private school children who were enrolled during School Year 2021-2022 and received free meals at school, from the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. 

“These benefits are intended to help families purchase food for their children during the covered 55 days of summer. 

“The goal is to provide thousands of American Samoa families with additional resources to buy food for their children during the summer period to provide the meals they normally would eat at school. 

“The P-EBT Program is optional for states and territories and not automatically awarded.”

He said with the support of government leaders they have applied for these funds since last year. “And we were fortunate to have been approved and have since implemented two Regular P-EBT Programs for School Years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 and two Summer P-EBT Programs for the Summers of 2021 and 2022

“We hope that these benefits are helping struggling families feed their children and that our people are using these benefits wisely to purchase healthy food for their children for better health outcomes. “