Parents frustrated by hours on hold calling P-EBT hotline

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 8:20 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Long waits on hold and unanswered questions for some parents awaiting re-imbursement for virtual learning through the National School Lunch Program.

Many haven’t received the funds and weren’t informed by their local school district. But the biggest complaint is the hours wait when calling the hotline for assistance.

“Thank you for calling the Mississippi Pandemic EBT Hotline. We are currently experiencing unusually long delays.”

That is the recorded message heard Tuesday when a call was made to 1-833-316-2423. The message repeated with other information for more 15 minutes until I ended the call.

“I’ve stayed on for an hour, an hour and a half, two hours,” said Washington County parent Isaac Morris.

The 57-year-old father of one is among possibly hundreds of parents trying to speak with someone when calling the DHS EBT hotline. The number is to assist parents trying to receive meal re-imbursement for free or reduced lunches during virtual and hybrid learning.

Morris is in the Greenville school district and did not receive a P-EBT card.

“The longest has been three hours,” said Morris. “I drove to Jackson. It takes me from Greenville to Jackson two and a half hours. I was in Jackson and still was on hold.”

The Mississippi Department of Education and the Mississippi Department of Human Services will release approximately $246 million in P-EBT benefits. Approximately 340,000 cards were issued.

Mark Jones with the DHS Office of Communications said delays in card distribution are the result of bad data from the school districts which are responsible for providing student eligibility information.

He said there is now a high call volume because of those inaccuracies. Each eligible child will receive a payment of $375.

“It’s important for me, my family. My wife is going through breast cancer and stuff like that, and it would help us a lot,” added Morris.

Parents are also encouraged to go the P-EBT web page to answer frequently asked questions. Officials said the agency is working to resolve the issues.

You can click on this link to reach the P-EBT webpage.

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