More details have been released about how families will receive the monetary equivalent for meals missed since schools closed in March. This amounts to $313.50 for each eligible child.
This federal benefit is for children enrolled in school in grades k-12 who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. For the 2019-2020 school year, some 445,000 Alabama children or 62% of all students in schools, are eligible.
This includes students who attend schools that participate in the federal Community Eligibility Provision, which allows all children at the school to eat free, even if families do not otherwise qualify for SNAP or other government assistant. The benefits are called P-EBT (Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer).
Children can continue to participate in meal service programs provided by their schools in addition to receiving the monetary benefits.
These benefits may be used at any store that accepts SNAP and can be used to purchase SNAP eligible food items according to the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR).
Families who are already eligible for SNAP will automatically receive benefits through EBT cards beginning in May. Just over 257,000 children are eligible for SNAP benefits according to the official application DHR completed.
Families who are not already eligible for SNAP but whose children attend a school where all students receive free meals will receive a letter notifying them of their eligibility. To receive benefits, those families must verify information and choose to participate. An EBT card will then be sent with benefits for March, April, and May.
An estimated 150,000 children could be eligible under this provision according to estimates by DHR. The total cost for providing the assistance to families is projected to be $121 million.