A huge benefit for thousands of families could pay for your groceries for months regardless of your income. Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, or P-EBT, is for families with children up to age 21 who temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price meals at school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Your kids don’t have to be on the free lunch program this go-round. If you are in a school where all of the students qualify for free and reduced lunches, you can get up to $1,200 per child. The amount of the benefit is based on the school the child attends and is determined by the number of days that most students at that school received remote instruction during the 2020-2021 school year. The process to apply is simple, and you might be surprised to learn your family qualifies for the help.

Who is eligible for free grocery money?

For starters, so many students in the Houston Independent School District qualify for free or reduced lunches, that the benefit is offered to every student. When classes were canceled or moved to virtual learning from August through June of the 2020-2021 school year, the USDA voted to get those benefits to students who were not in school to receive them.

Many families could qualify for $1,200 per student. The money will be loaded onto a Texas P-EBT cardYou must apply online by Aug 13.

This benefit is not just for HISD. All students are eligible in Aldine, Alief, Angleton, Channelview, Damon and Huffman independent school districts. If your child attends a school where free and reduced lunches are offered to every student, they can get the payment also. When you apply, you will receive the P-EBT card by mail and you have up to a year to use the funds loaded into the card.

To see how much children in every Texas school qualifies for, click here.

To apply, go to Your Texas Benefits page right here.

Other ways you could be eligible for grocery help

This added grocery help is not just for students who are already on free or reduced lunch programs during the school year. Others might be eligible.

  • If your child is on SNAP Food Benefits you don’t need to apply. You will automatically see the $1,200 loaded onto your account.
  • Children who are certified for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
  • Children who attend a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) or Provision 2 (P2) school that offers free meals to all students.
  • Children born after Aug. 1, 2014, in families who received SNAP benefits for at least one month between October 2020 and June 2021.

Contact your child’s school if you have questions about the school’s participation in these programs. Keep in mind the school may have different summer hours so check the school website for that information.

You can also call if you have questions. For more information, visit hhs.texas.gov/pebt (English) or hhs.texas.gov/es/pebt (Spanish), or call the P-EBT Call Center at 833-442-1255, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.