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$2.5 billion in pandemic food benefits for Texas families has been approved by HHSC, announces Governor Abbott



TX  – On Thursday, May 20, Governor Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a second round of federal Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) food benefits. These benefits will help families with children who have temporarily lost availability to free or reduced-price school meals due to Covid-19 during the 2020-2021 school year.

For the school year, P-EBT benefit provides up to $1,200 per child, and the amount is based on the school the child attends and the number of days that most students at that school receive remote instruction during the 2020-2021 school year. P-EBT benefits, which is a joint effort by HHSC, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and Texas Education Agency (TEA), can be utilized the same way as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits to pay for groceries.

“Thank you to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for approving this second round of pandemic food benefits for Texas families,” said Governor Abbott. “These additional benefits will continue to help Texans provide food for their families. I thank our state partners at HHSC, TEA, and TDA for working together to secure these benefits and administering them quickly to families across the state.”

“These additional food benefits are a lifeline and will go a long way to help many Texas families put nutritious food on the table,” said HHS Executive Commissioner Cecile Erwin Young. “We’ve worked closely with our many state and federal partners and we’re thankful to get this program off the ground so we can help people during this challenging time.”

For the second round of P-EBT, HHSC was granted federal approval to provide over $2.5 billion in benefits to about 3.7 million eligible children in Texas. During the first round of P-EBT that was distributed last summer, more than $1 billion was provided in food benefits to more than 3 million children.

P-EBT food benefits assists families with children who are certified for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program and families with children born following Aug. 1, 2014 who receive SNAP food benefits.

For most families who receive SNAP benefits, they don’t need to apply and will automatically receive P-EBT benefits on their Lone Star Card by May 28.

Families who will need to apply include:

  • Those who have received SNAP benefits for the first time during the 2020-2021 school year in May or June 2021 and have children born on or prior to Aug. 1, 2014
  • Those who have children certified for free or reduced-price meals and received meals at not cost during the 2020-2021 school year but did not receive SNAP benefits
  • Those who attended a school defined as a Community Eligibility Provision or Provision II school and received meals at no cost during the 2020-2021 school year but did not receive SNAP benefits

By June 2, families that need to apply will receive a notification from their school district, including eligibility information and how to obtain the application. To make sure of timely and accurate issuance of benefits, a Social Security number or School Identification Number must be provided for each child in public school on the application. Starting June 2 through Aug. 13, the application will be open, and applications will be processed in order in which they were received. After completion of application, those eligible for a benefit amount will be given benefits on a new P-EBT Card through the mail.