Texas families in need to receive $285 per child for food

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission will provide more than $1 billion in food benefits through the federal Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program to families with children who have temporarily lost access to free or discounted school meals due to COVID-19-related school closures.

P-EBT will provide a one-time benefit of $285 per child, which can be used in the same way as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits to pay for groceries.

P-EBT will be administered through a coordinated effort by the HHSC, the Texas Department of Agriculture, and Texas Education Agency.

"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 Gov. 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."

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.

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.

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. 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.

Gov. Abbott also announced the launch of a statewide program that will allow SNAP recipients to purchase groceries online starting on Wednesday, May 13.

"As we respond to this pandemic, the state of Texas is committed to helping SNAP recipients throughout the state access nutritious food for their families," said Gov. Abbott. "I thank HHSC for launching this new program and for its continued work to help Texans in need while containing the spread of COVID-19."

The program will allow SNAP recipients to purchase their groceries online for curbside pickup or delivery from Walmart and Amazon.

"This innovative initiative helps provide healthy food to Texas families who need it the most during this challenging time," said HHS Access and Eligibility Deputy Executive Commissioner Wayne Salter. "We're committed to reducing food insecurity for at-risk Texans."

Delivery and convenience fees will not be covered by SNAP benefits. Recipients only need their pin to complete transactions.

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