A one-time payment of $375 as part of a summer round of Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer food aid is expected to reach families with students relying on free or reduced-cost meals at school. The program had previously provided single payments of up to $1,200 for eligible students.
The federal benefit provides food aid for all 3.7 million eligible low-income children in Texas who can no longer access free and reduced-price meals as soon as schools closed due to the pandemic, Texas Tribune reported.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission, in coordination with the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas Education Agency, is allocating more than $1.4 billion to families struggling to pay for food amid the pandemic.
On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott announced that families who applied for the P-EBT aid for the 2020-2021 school year and already received previous benefits are eligible to receive the $375 payment. Families of children who were born after Aug. 1, 2014, and were relying on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits this summer, will also receive the $375 payment.
SNAP mainly provides food aid to adults with low income. The P-EBT card can be used at establishments that accept SNAP payments. That includes grocery stores and supermarkets.
Wayne Salter, the deputy executive commissioner of access and eligibility services for Texas Health and Human Services, said that they are thankful to be able to provide the extended benefit as children across Texas start going back to school.
For those families who have not applied, they are given until Sept. 13 to apply and receive the previous pandemic EBT aid which is around $ 1,200, depending on how frequently students attended in-person classes at their respective schools.
Families who qualified for the National School Lunch Program, hence receiving the Pandemic EBT food aid, will be notified by respective schools and districts. The application for free and reduced-cost meals is open until Aug. 28 for the upcoming school year.
Families who weren’t able to receive the first P-EBT food aid may still qualify for the summer amount if their children attended Texas schools in the last month of the school year. This still depends on circumstances.
Jamie Olson, the Director of government affairs for Feeding Texas, worked with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to help reach families that are in need of food aid. Olson said she believes that the EBT aid will continue even after the pandemic.
“Childhood hunger drastically increases during those summer months when kids are out of school, and families are having to stretch their resources thinner since those school meals are not available during the summertime,” Olson said, adding: “This EBT model is so much more efficient and effective on combating childhood hunger than traditional models that are based on providing meals in person to kids at essentially community sites.”