Deadline approaching for kids seeking free or reduced school lunch

Friday, Aug. 21 is the deadline for families to apply for the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program, or P-EBT.

Because of school closures for COVID-19, the Department of Agriculture approved and provided Texas more than $1 billion in pandemic food benefits to help families with children that have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price meals through school.

Families who apply for P-EBT may be able to receive some help in the form of $285 in federal aid.

"As long as they are participating in that free lunch program, they are eligible for the benefit," said Wayne Salter with Texas Health and Human Services.

Three million Texas children are eligible for the P-EBT program.

Families that were on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in March don't need to apply for the program. These benefits were automatically deposited on their debit-like Lone Star card that Texas uses to distribute SNAP aid.

Parents should have already gotten an email from their school district with a link to enroll in the program.

"These households are now having to take on the additional cost of breakfast, lunch and snacks, and these are historically meals that these children would have received if they are in schools," Salter said.

Help is also available for parents with kids younger than school age through Houston's Women and Infant Children's program. You can call 832-393-5427 for more information about WIC.

P-EBT will be administered by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Department of Agriculture, and Texas Education Agency.

If you're eligible for P-EBT, and you have more questions, you can contact the P-EBT Call Center at 833-613-6220 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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