Parents whose children lost access to summer meal programs during the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for pandemic food benefits.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Nov. 16 that Texas was approved for a fifth round of Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfers through the federal government. The program, which is run by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, provides benefits to families who receive free or reduced-price lunch and were impacted by school closures during the pandemic.

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

This round of pandemic food benefits will cover summer meal expenses from June 1-Aug. 30, according to the HHSC. The HHSC will distribute over $1.4 billion in benefits for roughly 3.5 million eligible children. Families will receive $391 per eligible child, the release said.

The benefits can be used to buy groceries, just like other EBT and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. To be eligible, students must have received free or reduced-price lunch during the 2021-22 school year or the following summer, according to the release. Free and reduced-price lunch is provided through the National School Lunch Program, which a majority of Texas school districts are enrolled in.

According to the release, eligible students who have not received SNAP or EBT benefits before will be mailed a notice with instructions to claim their benefits. Families must claim all benefits within 90 days from the date listed on the notice.

Those who received SNAP benefits over the summer will automatically receive P-EBT benefits on their Lone Star Card beginning in December, according to the release. They will also be sent a notice with benefit information, but they do not need to do anything to receive the benefits.

Benefits can be claimed and managed at For more information, officials recommend visiting or contacting the P-EBT Call Center at 833-442-1255.