AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Health and Human Services Commission will be providing more food benefits to Texas families who have temporarily lost access to free or discounted school meals due to COVID-19.
According to Gov. Greg Abbott's office, HHSC has received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide more than $1 billion through the federal Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program, which provides a one-time benefit of $285 per child to be used like SNAP benefits to pay for groceries.
"I thank the U.S. Department of Agriculture for providing these emergency benefits to Texas families, and for the swift action of our state agencies to administer these benefits across the state," said Abbott. "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."
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P-EBT will be administered through a coordinated effort by the HHSC, the Texas Department of Agriculture, and the Texas Education Agency.
"Families across our state have had to rapidly adjust to the impacts of this pandemic and we’re thankful to our many state and federal partners who were able to work together for our fellow Texans," said HHS Executive Commissioner Phil Wilson. "These emergency benefits will provide additional assistance to those families on free and reduced-price meal plans, giving greater access to nutritious food for children most in need."
More than three million Texas children are certified to receive free or reduced-price meals at school during the 2019-20 school year. Households with school children who received SNAP benefits in March or were recipients of free or reduced-price school meals before the COVID-19 statewide school closure are eligible for P-EBT benefits. Families certified for the free or reduced-price school meals program after in-person instruction ended due to COVID-19 are also eligible.
Families with children aged 5 to 18 who received SNAP food benefits in March, when school campuses first closed, will automatically receive P-EBT on their current Lone Star Card by May 22.
Families who have children certified for free or reduced-price meals during the 2019-20 school year but did not receive SNAP benefits in March will need to apply. Families with children who received meals at no cost to them because their schools are defined as Community Eligibility Provision or Provision II schools also need to apply. Those families will receive a notification from their school district by May 31 which will include eligibility information and how to access the application.
Applications will be open from June 1 - 30 and processed in the order they are received. After completing the application, eligible families will receive benefits on a new Texas P-EBT card in the mail.
To learn more, interested families can visit the P-EBT website.
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