More than 2 million Texas children eligible under latest pandemic-driven food benefits

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that $626 million in pandemic food benefits will be given to families with children who temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to COVID-19.

On Tuesday, Abbott announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a fourth round of federal Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer.

The video above is from a previous report.

"Thank you to HHSC and TEA for working with the USDA to secure these food benefits for Texas families," said Abbott.

HHSC will provide to approximately 2.1 million eligible children in Texas for the 2021-22 school year.

"The P-EBT program has strengthened our efforts over the past two years to ensure families and children across the state have access to nutritious meals," said Abbott.

To date, HHSC has distributed approximately $6.13 billion in P-EBT food benefits to Texas families.

P-EBT is a joint effort of HHSC, the Texas Department of Agriculture, and the Texas Education Agency.

"We're thankful for the opportunity to continue this successful P-EBT program in Texas," said Wayne Salter, HHS deputy executive commissioner of Access and Eligibility Services.

To be eligible for P-EBT, a student must be certified for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program at their school and have experienced COVID-related absences, virtual attendance, or campus closures.

P-EBT is based on the number of days a student did not receive in-person instruction due to COVID-19 illness. Families will receive $7.10 for each eligible day.

"These food benefits provide much-needed assistance to families and children impacted by school closures," said Salter.

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Receiving free meals at school does not automatically qualify a child for P-EBT. A student is NSLP-certified with a school-approved NSLP household application, when directly certified through programs like SNAP, Medicaid or TANF, or if they are enrolled in a Community Eligibility Provision school or Provision two school.

Eligible families who currently receive SNAP, and those who have received P-EBT in the past, will receive benefits on their existing Lone Star Card or P-EBT Card. They will be mailed a notice with information about their student's benefit amount and do not need to take any action.

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Eligible families who do not currently receive SNAP and have never received P-EBT will be mailed a notice with a claim code because additional information is needed to issue benefits. The notice will explain how they can claim benefits for eligible students within 90 days by calling the P-EBT Call Center or visiting YourTexasBenefits.com.

Some families will start receiving P-EBT benefits as early as the week of April 18. Other families may receive their benefits beginning in July, based on when schools provide student information to HHSC.

Visit hhs.texas.gov/pebt or call the P-EBT Call Center at 833-442-1255 to learn more.
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