Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series
Policy name: Second round of food aid for Texas families
Overview: Families who relied on the pandemic EBT (P-EBT) card in 2020-2021 can now apply for continued and potentially increased benefits for the 2021-2022 school year.
Population: 29.7 million
Food policy category: Food security
Program goals: To increase access to food for families in need.
How it works: P-EBT is provided to families whose children lost access to free or reduced-price school meals while schools were closed to in-person learning due to COVID-19. In Texas, P-EBT benefits are put on the Lone Star Card (EBT card) and can be used at any establishment that accepts SNAP.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) received approval to provide up to $2.5 billion in food aid to 3.7 million eligible children in Texas. Each child will be eligible to receive up to $1,200 for the 2021-2022 school year, which is significantly more than the $285 they received during the 2020-2021 school year.
Most families who already receive SNAP benefits will not need to re-apply for the extended P-EBT benefits, and the funds will automatically be added to their Lone Star Cards. Families who do need to apply include:
- Those who received SNAP benefits for the first time in May or June 2021 and have children born on or before Aug. 1, 2014
- Those who have children certified for free or reduced-price meals, or who attended a Community Eligibility Provision or Provision 2 school and received meals at no cost during the 2020-2021 school year but did not receive SNAP benefits.
Families that need to apply should have received a notification of eligibility from their school district by June 2. Applications will be open until August 13 and processed on a rolling basis.
The amount of P-EBT funding each child receives will depend on the number of days spent in remote learning during the 2020-2021 school year, which is an indicator of how many school meals were missed.
Progress to date: The first round of P-EBT funds were distributed in the summer of 2020, providing more than one billion dollars in aid to more than three million children. Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced on May 20 of this year that additional funding had been approved for the next school year. Those who do not need to apply (see above) should have automatically received funds added to their P-EBT cards on or before May 28.
Why it is important: Globally, as of January 2021, a total of 39 billion school meals, approximately 40 percent, were not provided to a total of 370 million children since the beginning of the pandemic because of school closures. In 2020, 22.4 million children in the United States participated in the National School Lunch Program and 12.3 million participated in the School Breakfast Program.
Free or reduced-price school meals provide the main source of nutrition for many low-income children, whose families may not be able to provide nutritious meals at home. Research from the Food Research and Action Committee shows that low-income children who participate in school meal programs are:
- More likely to consume fruit, vegetables, and milk at breakfast and lunch;
- More likely to consume a better diet overall than low-income students who do not participate in school meal programs;
- Less likely to be obese; and
- Less likely to experience behavioral, emotional, and mental health issues or academic problems associated with hunger.
P-EBT food aid can help families provide nutritious meals for their children when they are unable to receive meals at school.
Program/Policy initiated: Governor Abbott announced on May 20, 2021, that families could apply for a second round of P-EBT food aid.
Point of contact: N/A
Similar practices: The USDA announced in April that P-EBT benefits would be extended through the summer of 2021. However, to date, no other state has announced P-EBT assistance for the 2021-2022 school year.
Evaluation: There has not been any evaluation for the second round of aid, as applications and distribution of funds are still in progress.
- Addressing Child Hunger When School Is Closed — Considerations during the Pandemic and Beyond (The New England Journal of Medicine)
- Feeding Students During COVID-19—Related School Closures: A Nationwide Assessment of Initial Responses (Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior)
- Safely Distributing School Meals During COVID-19 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- State Guidance on Coronavirus P-EBT (United States Department of Agriculture)
- Benefits of School Lunch (Food Research and Action Committee)
- Governor Abbott, HHSC Announce $2.5 Billion In Pandemic Food Benefits For Texas Families (Office of the Texas Governor)
- HISD families can apply for up to $1,200 per child under federal pandemic benefit program (KHOU 11)
- National School Lunch Program: Participation and Lunches Served (Food and Nutrition Service)
- Nutrition Crisis Looms as More than 39 Billion In-School Meals Missed Since Start of Pandemic – UNICEF and WFP (UNICEF)
- Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) Due to COVID-19 (Texas Health and Human Services)
- School Breakfast Program Participation and Meals Served (Food and Nutrition Service)
- Texas Families Without Access to School Meals to Get 2nd Round of Food Assistance (ABC 13 Eyewitness News)
- Texas Families with Students Receiving Free or Reduced-Price Lunches could be Eligible for Up to $1,200 in Food Aid (KXAN)
- Texas Offers $1,200 in Food Aid to Families Getting Free or Reduced Cost School Lunch (ABC 7 KVIA)
- USDA to Provide Critical Nutrition Assistance to 30M+ Kids Over the Summer (United States Department of Agriculture)