SAN ANTONIO – The novel coronavirus pandemic has put many in a financial bind, and now federal funds through the U.S. Department of Agriculture may help some families with school-aged children.
Families on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or whose children receive free or reduced meals at school may be receiving an extra $285 this month per child.
"The benefit is for families that are currently receiving SNAP benefits. But it's also been extended to any families that receive free and reduced-price meals within their school district," said Deborah Rice, assistant director of child nutrition at South San Antonio Independent School District.
The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) is designed to help struggling families during this time.
"We are considered a 100% CERP, meaning that all of our students in our district receive free breakfast and lunch and then in some cases even a separate meal. And so when they're not in school, they're not receiving these," Rice said.
Families with children ages 5 to 18 years old that received SNAP benefits in March will automatically receive $285 per child in their Lone Stone Cards account. Other families have until June 30 to apply for the program.
"The only prerequisite is that you have a child in the public schools who's on free or reduced lunch. That's it. You apply through your school district," said state Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio)
Lawmakers say in a time when families are struggling, this kind of help is welcomed.
"This is a way to at least get some extra funds and allow those people to use that money to get food for themselves and their family and keep everyone afloat until things get back to normal," Bernal said.
Families should check with their child's school district website for a link on how to apply for the P-EBT program.
Abbott announced this week that SNAP benefits would be extended due to the pandemic. The Health and Human Services Commission will provide an additional $177 million in emergency funds to recipients for the month of June.
“As we continue the process of safely and strategically opening Texas for business, we are committed to ensuring families across the state have access to nutritious food,” Abbott stated.