WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nexstar) — Texas lawmakers are asking the federal government for extra help feeding children who are eligible for free and reduced breakfast and lunch at school.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has launched the “Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program” (PEBT) as part of the Families First Coronavirus Act, which gives families with an EBT benefit card the money that would have been spent on meals at school.
But so far, the USDA has opened the plan to only six states — and Texas isn’t one of them.
Texas Republican Congressman Will Hurd is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to approve Texas for the PEBT program.
“This is basically saying that if you are already on food stamps, and your child is going to school and they are on free and reduced lunch, then some of that money goes on to your Lonestar card so that you can buy food in the grocery store,” explains Hurd.
Rachel Cooper at the Center for Public Policy Priorities says for millions of children in Texas, the most reliable meals they get are at school.
She says the PEBT program would ease the financial burden on families struggling to put food on the table.
“It would pay roughly $114 per month, per child for when schools are closed,” says Cooper.
Texas officials submitted a request to the UDSA last week and are waiting for final approval.