Governor Abbott, HHSC Extend Deadline For Pandemic Food Benefits For Families Affected By COVID-19 School Closures

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX)
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX)

Texas Border Business

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is extending the application deadline for the federal Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer program (P-EBT) to July 31. Extending the deadline will help ensure eligible families have time to apply for this one-time food benefit.

P-EBT is a one-time benefit of $285 per eligible child and can be used in the same way as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits to pay for groceries. Eligible families include those with children who lost access to free or reduced-price school meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) due to school closures. 

“The extension of the P-EBT deadline helps ensure that Texans have time to apply for this program and provide nutritious food to their families as the state continues to combat COVID-19,” said Governor Abbott. “Ensuring access to healthy food in our communities is an important part of our response to this pandemic.”

“We remain committed to ensuring access to healthy and nutritious foods for eligible Texans, and P-EBT provides that to those who need it most,” said HHS Access and Eligibility Deputy Executive Commissioner Wayne Salter. “This extension provides more time for families to apply for this emergency assistance.”

More than three million children in Texas were certified to receive free or reduced-price meals at school during the 2019-2020 school year. Families who are eligible for P-EBT were notified by their school districts in May. After completing the online application, families receive their benefits on a new Texas P-EBT card in the mail.

HHSC partnered with the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas Education Agency to launch the $1 billion federal program on June 1 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, nearly $700 million in P-EBT has been issued to families, benefiting more than 2.5 million children.

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Visit hhs.texas.gov/pebt to learn more about P-EBT. For questions regarding eligibility or to learn more, people may also contact the P-EBT Call Center at 833-613-6220, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central Standard Time. When applying, it is especially important to include a valid phone number on their application. HHSC staff may need to call families to get additional information to approve P-EBT benefits.

About the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program SNAP provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of families in need, so they can purchase healthy food and move toward self-sufficiency. In Texas, SNAP benefits are put onto the Lone Star Card (EBT card), which can be used just like a credit card at any store that accepts SNAP. Texas Health and Human Services administers the federal program throughout the state. P-EBT follows the same program rules as SNAP, including foods and purchase options.

About the School Meal Programs The federally funded School Meal Programs include the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and NSLP. The School Meal Programs serve over 5 million meals a day to Texas children in school and residential child care institutions. The School Meal Programs serve nutritious, low-cost or free meals to students in public and non-profit private schools in Texas. Meals must meet federal nutrition guidelines. The Texas Department of Agriculture administers SBP and NSLP in Texas.

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