Texas has received $1 billion to help the 3.6 million families of school children who have lost access to free or discounted school lunches during the pandemic.
The “Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer” program, or P-EBT, approved this week by the federal government, provides a one-time benefit of $285 per child. The money can be used in the same way as food stamp recipients use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to pay for groceries, according to a news release from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office.
“This program will expand access to healthy and nutritious food for families and children in need as the state continues to respond to COVID-19,” Abbott said.
“The Pandemic EBT program is vital to feeding hungry Texans and making sure families know that their children are eligible and how to apply for benefits is critical,” Rachel Cooper, the center’s senior analyst for food policy, said in a written statement provided to the Dallas Morning News.
“This is one of the most important moves our elected officials have taken since this pandemic began,” she said.
Families who are part of the state’s food stamp program will see the $285 added to their electronic Lone Star debit cards by May 22.
Families who are not enrolled in the food stamp program will be notified by the local school districts of the application process by May 31.
Funding for the program came from the first federal COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress in March.