MUST Ministries seeks food donations from unwanted EBT cards

·2 min read

Jan. 17—Some families around Cobb County and Georgia have begun receiving an unexpected bit of mail in recent weeks — pandemic EBT, or "P-EBT," cards.

Georgia's Division of Family & Children Services (DFCS) began sending out the federally-subsidized cards (also known as food stamps) in recent weeks to families whose children qualify for free or reduced school lunches. In a twist, however, some households who wouldn't have normally qualified are still getting the cards.

In response to parents who say they either don't need or don't want the extra benefits, Marietta-based MUST Ministries is calling for help.

The nonprofit, which helps get food and other resources to homeless and struggling residents, has asked parents who would otherwise discard the P-EBT cards to use them to purchase and donate groceries.

A parent first approached MUST about the program around the beginning of the year, according to Gabriel Fleming, director of the nonprofit's donation center.

"I started receiving emails, and one parent even said he encouraged his neighbors who were receiving the cards to purchase groceries for MUST and he would collect them," Fleming said. "Some have shown up with the cards, others have asked how they can use them to donate to us."

Families who wouldn't have typically received the cards are now getting them because of a quirk in the DFCS criteria. School systems which previously participated in federally-funded school meal programs, and were closed or reduced hours during the pandemic, have had their students deemed eligible, according to DFCS.

That includes students in both the Cobb County and Marietta City school systems. The amounts paid out to each family varies based on the number of days their school was closed and the age of the child.

MUST's biggest needs are non-perishable food goods, but it's also happy to accept staples like eggs, meat, and dairy. Fleming emphasized that the nonprofit cannot accept the cards themselves, because by law they must be used by the person who receives them.

"We are currently giving away 3.5 tons of food a day compared to 1 ton a day pre-pandemic, so we are so grateful for food donations of any kind. This is helping to feed other children in our community who so desperately need this food, some of them their own classmates and friends," said MUST CEO Ike Reighard.

Donations can be brought to 1280 Field Parkway in Marietta, near the intersection of Cobb Parkway and Bells Ferry Road, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.