Mingo County students and their families will be receiving a little extra help with the purchase of food during the summer months, school officials said this week.

The additional help will be coming in the form of money for food that was unexpectedly shortchanged Mingo County's students during the weeks that overall they will have been out of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Jim Justice officially closed West Virginia schools effective March 16 for two weeks and then later extended the closure through the rest of the school year, which for Mingo County was May 29.

The funding, specifically coming via a Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) card, will be mailed to the families of all Mingo County students wanting to participate.

"Because our county is a CEP county, which means all of our students eat free of charge, the families of every student will receive $313 on a P-EBT card per each child in school," said Superintendent Don Spence. "This is the reimbursement of money that each child would have received in meals had not the schools closed."

Spence said those families already receiving SNAP benefits will not not receive a P-EBT card, but that the money instead will be added to their existing cards.

He said it is important that each family's address accurately coincides with the one their respective child's school currently has on its WVEIS database. Should the address information be incorrect, he pointed out, it must be updated by no later than Friday, May 15.

"These cards will be mailed directly to the parents so it's really important that the schools have up-to-date addresses for everyone," he said.

"We already put out a notification on our website to make sure the addresses the schools now have are correct. If they're not correct, once we get them here at the Central Office we will make sure the schools get them."

Spence said the pre-loaded P-EBT cards are scheduled to be mailed by mid-June and, once received, they can be used at any location that accepts SNAP EBT cards.

To update student/family contact information before the deadline on Friday, May 15, visit, https://mingoschools.com to access the link.

Below is a list of some of the requirements and/or exceptions for eligibility:

• CEP counties--All students automatically qualify

• Partial CEP counties--All students in CEP-designated schools qualify

• Non-CEP schools and counties--Students who are eligible for free and reduced price meals are eligible for the benefit.

• Cards cannot be donated. The cards will come with rights/responsibilities from DHHR on how they can be used, where they can be used, eligible items, ineligible items and other instructions.

• For newly-eligible households (meaning, these families didn’t previously qualify but now believe they may be eligible due to some life-changing circumstance, such as loss of income) – their benefit value is tied to the month in which they apply. So if they apply in May and are eligible for free/rp benefits – their P-EBT card will only be filled with benefits for the month of May.

• Eligible households with multiple children will receive one card but loaded at the appropriate value for each of the children combined.

• Free/reduced price students of private schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program are eligible for the benefit.

• Head Start children who fall under a school system and have a WVEIS number should be eligible; the free standing/unaffiliated head start and pre-kindergartens are not eligible for this benefit.

• Homeschooled children are not eligible. However, families with homeschooled children are encouraged to call United Way 211 Resource and Referral or to contact their local DHHR office to find out if there are other benefits they can apply for.

• The cards will not be loaded for summer months; however, the benefits do not expire until November, 2020. After this time, any unused benefits will be expunged.

• This is federally-funded through the Families First Coronavirus Act. It is a one-time benefit with a lump sum payment.

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