$1.4 billion in Summer P-EBT food benefits to be awarded to eligible children in Texas 

Published 12:12 am Tuesday, November 22, 2022

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During the 2021-2022 school year, K-12 students received P-EBT (Pandemic-Electronic Benefits Transfer) benefits based on documented COVID-19 absences.

Each student received $7 in benefits for every day of physician-confirmed quarantine. Eligible students received notification by postal mail.

In August of 2022, the State of Texas was added to the list of states and territories permitted to operate a P-EBT program. This means that families, even those not directly impacted by a COVID-19 infection, may receive P-EBT food assistance later this month.

On Nov, 16, Governor Greg Abbott announced details of this fifth round of P-EBT benefits for Texas families.

“The State of Texas continues working to ensure families and children impacted by school closures have access to nutritious meals,” he said. “I thank HHSC and TEA for working with the USDA to provide these food benefits for Texans families across the state.”

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidance to states provides flexibility in the distribution of Summer P-EBT. States may release several awards over the summer, or a one-time benefit will be awarded. Because Texas has not yet awarded Summer PEBT, the issuance will be a one-time award to arrive in November or December.

Summer P-EBT in Texas is permitted thanks to coordination between the federal and state government.

At the federal level, this includes the passage of The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020, and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

The passage of the legislation gave authority to the USDA to work with the Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Education Agency, and Texas Department of Health and Human Services to offer benefits to eligible children.

When the COVID19 Pandemic began, universal free meals were possible thanks to waivers from Texas Department of Agriculture and the USDA. The waivers were not extended for the 2022-23 school year, requiring full pay families in Orange County to pay $70.65-$101.50/month to be served breakfast and lunch in K-12 schools.

The state has expressed concern for families experiencing food insecurity and looks forward to offering Summer P-EBT.

Regarding Texas Summer PEBT, Wayne Salter, HHS deputy executive commissioner of Access and Eligibility Services, said, “We’re proud to be supporting families in Texas so they can provide food to their children. Being well nourished allows children to focus on learning rather than where their next meal will come from.”

The USDA permits each participating state to offer K-12 students the standard benefit of $391 per child irrespective of the status of the COVID-19 declared health emergency at the federal and state level. Eligible children will receive notification by mail with instructions detailing how to access the benefits.

Some child-care aged children may also be eligible for P-EBT; those already enrolled in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) will have the benefits loaded to their Lone Star Card in December.

For more information regarding Summer P-EBT benefits, interested parties may call 833-442-1255 or visit Texas HHS at hhs.texas.gov/pebt.

— Written by Shari Hardin