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Local DHSS issued nearly $6 million in P-EBT benefits to eligible families

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — To date, the government has issued a total of $5,725,265 million in Summer P-EBT benefits to 12,584 school children from 5,761 households since benefits were first issued in mid-January. 

This was confirmed by Director of Human Social Services, Muavaefaatasi John Suisala in response to Samoa News questions.

 “As a reminder, these benefits are for the Summer of 2022 so the school children who qualify for this assistance are the ones who were enrolled in public and private schools during School Year 2021-2022 and received P-EBT benefits for the Regular School Year last year. 

 “Moreover, the FNS approved $6.4 million for Summer P-EBT benefits so we have a balance of $674,735 as of the close of business on Tuesday. 

 “We have no more challenges as we near the end of this project. The last day to issue Summer P-EBT benefits is April 14, 2023.  These benefits expire on April 30, 2023.”

The director also confirmed they have not applied for the Regular P-EBT Program for the current school year because all schools have been operating on a regular, in-person, basis with no virtual learning days since the start of the current school year. 

 “The P-EBT benefits are for virtual learning days when children have no access to school meals in school due to the pandemic. 

 “Nevertheless, we plan to submit a proposal for the Summer of 2023 since the rules this year have changed where an application for Summer P-EBT is no longer contingent on having an approved State Plan for the Regular School Year. 

 “If approved, we are required to issue Summer P-EBT benefits no later than September 30, 2023.”

At the time the P-EBT was first announced by Governor Lemanu P. S. Mauga in January, when families needed extra support in purchasing food due to the current high inflation rate, the rising cost of living, and significant increases in food costs, thousands of American Samoa families once again benefited from this critically needed temporary food assistance program to keep our children nourished and healthy.

“I extend my sincerest gratitude and appreciation to USDA’s FNS Administrator, Cindy Long, for approving our second round of Summer P-EBT to ensure that our families can continue to put food on their tables and have access to nutritious food.”

The ASNAP is currently conducting mass issuance of ASNAP benefits or food stamps for January 2023 for their recipients who are low-income elderly, blind, and with disabilities.