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TUESDAY BRIEFS

Pandemic EBT Cards to be issued; Gov. signs measure to help small businesses recover; Wine & Wishes Gala goes virtual

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$67 million in Pandemic EBT Cards to be issued this week

About 168,000 New Mexico families whose children receive free or reduced-price lunch at school will receive $67 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, or food stamps, this week, the Human Services Department announced today.

The benefits will be issued on Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer cards in the name of the oldest child in each household and mailed out this week.

More than 250,000 school-age children in New Mexico qualify for the P-EBT program, authorized by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provides assistance to families with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.

The families of over 87,000 New Mexico school children have already received nearly $35 million in food benefits that were issued in May. The benefit is calculated monthly for each eligible student in the household equal to the daily reimbursement for free breakfast and lunch ($5.70), multiplied by the average number of days school was canceled in the month. It equates to a dollar amount of approximately $399 per student covering the period from March 16, to June 19, 2020.

The Human Services Department partnered with the New Mexico Public Education Department to validate the physical addresses school districts have on file to ensure the P-EBT cards get to the households where the children reside.

The Human Services Department has two hotlines for individuals to inquire about the status of their P-EBT benefits. The P-EBT Hotline is 505-660-4822, or they can call the Human Services Department Customer Service Center at 1-800-283-4465.

The P-EBT program provides a supplemental food-purchasing benefit to current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program households and a new electronic benefit to other eligible households to offset the cost of meals that otherwise would have been available at school.

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, states may submit a plan to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for providing P-EBT benefits to SNAP and non-SNAP households with children who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to pandemic-related school closures.

State agencies may operate P-EBT when a school is closed for at least five consecutive days during a public health emergency designation during which the school would otherwise be in session.

“The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program is an important way to ensure that children will get the nutrition they need, especially when schools are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Karmela Martinez, New Mexico Income Support Division director. “We have been working hard with the Public Education Department to get these benefits out to the right families as quickly as possible.”

The Human Services Department provides services and benefits to more than 1 million New Mexicans through several programs including: the Medicaid Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Child Support Program, and several Behavioral Health Services.

 


Gov. Lujan Grisham signs measure to help small businesses recover from COVID-19

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday delivered hundreds of millions of dollars for low-interest, low-risk loans to help small New Mexico businesses recover financially from COVID-19.

The Small Business Recovery Act of 2020 allocates $400 million from the state’s $5 billion Severance Tax Permanent Fund for loans to small New Mexico businesses and nonprofits and almost $50 million for loans to local governments. 

Eligible businesses and nonprofits may borrow two times their average monthly expenses up to a maximum of $75,000. The measure sets the interest rate at one-half the prime rate on the day the loan is made. The initial loan period is three years.

“Small businesses are the backbone of New Mexico’s economy and the lifeblood of our  communities. They’ve suffered greatly from this unprecedented pandemic emergency, and our state and our economy suffer with them,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “I will fight for small businesses and their recovery every single day and this measure, putting our state’s wealth to work in getting them back on their feet, is a significant step in the right direction.”

The loan program is limited to businesses and nonprofits with 2019 annual gross revenue of less than $5 million and whose April or May income dropped 30 percent or more compared to the same month in 2019. 

For a local government to be eligible, it must have experienced at least a 10 percent decline in operating revenue in fiscal year 2020 due to the economic impacts of the coronavirus disease.

The New Mexico Finance Authority will administer the program. 

The legislation also freezes employer contribution rates to the unemployment compensation trust fund through December 31, 2021, stopping expected increases that would have taken effect next year.

The legislation, sponsored by Sens. John Sapien, Jacob Candelaria and Sander Rue and Reps. Marian Matthews and Daymon Ely, passed the Senate 26-11 and the House 59-5 during June’s special legislative session.


Make-A-Wish New Mexico Hosts Virtual Wine & Wishes Gala 2020

Due to COVID-19 the regularly scheduled gala has been shifted into a virtual online event on July 10, 2020 at 6 p.m. on Make-A-Wish New Mexico’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Each year, Make-A-Wish New Mexico partners with businesses and individuals across the community to host a Wine & Wishes Gala to raise funds to grant life-changing wishes for children battling critical illnesses.

The gala was originally scheduled for Friday, May 1, but was postponed until July 10th due to COVID-19.  Since large gatherings are still not possible, Make-A-Wish New Mexico decided to move forward with a virtual gala.  

This year’s virtual Wine & Wishes will be broadcast on Friday, July 10th beginning at 6 p.m. The gala will also include an auction and other “buy it now” options.  The auction opens on Wednesday, July 8th at 8 a.m. and closes on Friday, July 10th at 9 p.m.  

The premiere sponsors for this year’s Wine & Wishes Gala are Parnall Law Firm and JP & Ruth Espinoza.  The gala will be hosted by Jackie James and Tony Manero from The JTD Show on 100.3 The Peak.  To register for the gala go to www.newmexico.wish.org or log onto Make-A-Wish New Mexico’s Facebook page.  There is no charge to watch the gala, but we do encourage individuals to make a donation to support a wish if they are able.   

Each year the Wine & Wishes Gala raises funds to grant wishes for children battling critical illnesses.  Last year’s gala raised enough funds to grant the wishes of over 20 New Mexico children.  Since the outbreak of COVID-19, many wishes have been put on hold due to travel restrictions or bans on large gatherings that includes things like sporting events and concerts.  Currently over 120 New Mexico children battling critical illnesses are waiting for their wishes to be granted.  Make-A-Wish New Mexico is working to gather the resources necessary to grant each one of these wishes as soon as it is safe to do so.

This year’s Virtual Wine & Wishes will feature New Mexico Wish kids sharing the power of a wish, as well as local celebrities who support the mission of Make-A-Wish.  

“While we may not all be able to come together in person this year, we can still come together as a community and provide the gift of hope to New Mexico kids who are battling a critical illnesses,” said President & CEO of Make-A-Wish New Mexico, Sara Lister. “If anyone understands the isolation that comes along with an illness, its Wish kids.  We want our Wish kids to know that their wishes may be postponed but they are not cancelled, and we will come together and make sure we have the money necessary to grant their wishes.” 

Event Details

Make-A-Wish New Mexico’s Virtual Wine & Wishes Gala 2020

Friday, July 10, 2020

6:00 p.m. Virtual Happy Hour hosted by Jackie & Tony

6:30 p.m. Program including New Mexico Wish Kids 

7:00 p.m. Program concludes 

Watch Live on Make-A-Wish New Mexico Facebook page or YouTube channel.

Auction

Opens: Wednesday, July 8th at 8:00 a.m.

Closes: Friday, July 10th at 9:00 p.m.

To register for the auction, go to www.newmexico.wish.org and click on the Wine & Wishes logo. 

For more information or to register for the gala, please visit www.newmexico.wish.org.