New USDA benefit to help provide food to families with children that have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals

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Because of school closures from COVID-19, Texas received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide more than $1 billion in pandemic food benefits to families with children that have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals.

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) provides eligible families with a one-time payment for each child who previously received free or reduced-price meals. P-EBT works the same way Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits do and will help families get the food they need during the current pandemic. P-EBT will be administered by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Texas Department of Agriculture and Texas Education Agency.

Here are some key points about this program:

  • Families will receive a one-time benefit of approximately $285 per eligible child.
  • Families currently participating in SNAP with kids ages 5-18 will have the benefits added to their Lonestar cards by May 22nd.
    No application is needed.
  • Families on SNAP with kids under age 5 or ages 19-21, and families that are not on SNAP will receive a letter from their school district by May 31 with instructions to enroll in P-EBT via a simple, online application. After enrolling online, families will receive an EBT card with those benefits as soon as their applications are processed.
  • Getting this one-time benefit will not affect a family’s eligibility for other benefits.
  • P-EBT is available to families regardless of immigration status. Getting this one-time benefit will not keep a family member from getting a green card.

P-EBT will help essential workers and their families- like Melynda’s.

“I have two school-aged children. I was only able to get the curb-side lunches for my kids two days total because I work at Walgreens and I work almost non-stop during this pandemic,” Melynda said. “I just checked and got my P-EBT today. Very excited about them giving us the max amount plus this “bonus”. I feel like for once, my pantry and freezer will be full. I normally get $400/ month on SNAP. I ration that out and go shopping once a week. If I try to go for the whole month, with teenage boys in the house, they see food, they eat it. But for once, they can have snacks and such.”