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Texas families with children who receive free or discounted meals at school will get $285 from state

"Not only will these benefits give these kids and their families a little help with the food bill, I hope it gives them a little hope in a dark time."

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: The attached video originally aired on May 8.

Governor Abbott today announced Texas will provide more than $1 billion in food benefits to families with children who have temporarily lost access to free or discounted school meals due to COVID-19-related school closures.

The federal Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT)  provides a one-time benefit of $285 per child, which can be used in the same way as SNAP food benefits to pay for groceries. 

Families with children aged 5 to 18 who received SNAP food benefits for the month of March -- when school campuses first closed -- will automatically receive P-EBT on their current Lone Star Card by May 22. 

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Families who have children certified for free or reduced-price meals during the 2019-20 school year but did not receive SNAP benefits for the month of March will need to apply.

"Despite this crisis, the one thing that never changes is that children need to eat," said Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, "And the Texas Department of Agriculture has been working hard with our federal, state and community partners to make sure no child goes hungry because of this pandemic. Not only will these benefits give these kids and their families a little help with the food bill, I hope it gives them a little hope in a dark time."

More than three million children in Texas were certified to receive free or reduced-price meals at school during the 2019-2020 school year.

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"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," said Governor Abbott.

Households with school children who received SNAP food benefits for the month of March or were recipients of free or reduced-price meals at school before the statewide school closure are eligible for P-EBT benefits. Families who were certified for the free or reduced-price school meals program after in-person instruction at schools ended due to COVID-19 are also eligible to receive the benefit.

Visit hhs.texas.gov/pebt to learn more.