This story will be frequently updated with outbreak-related news and links to other in-depth coverage.
Households with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals will receive benefits equivalent to one free lunch and one free breakfast for each child under a newly announced program.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service authorized Arizona’s Department of Economic Security to provide “Arizona P-EBT Pandemic School Meal Replacement Benefits” to eligible households.
Nearly 600,000 students receive free or reduced-price school meals in Arizona, including 186,000 students already receiving Nutrition Assistance, who will be eligible for these benefits, according to a news release from Gov. Doug Ducey’s office.
The households will receive benefits equivalent to one free lunch and one free breakfast for each eligible child and represent additional support from free meals being distributed at state schools, including Gilbert Public Schools, Higley USD and Chandler USD.
Families that have been accessing meals from schools during the closure are still eligible for these benefits.
The benefits will be retroactive to March 16 and are calculated based on the number of school days for which the child would have received assistance from school meal programs.
Eligible families will receive $69 for March, $126 in April, and $120 in May, for each child.
Benefits will first be distributed to the majority of existing eligible Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, households this week through their existing accounts.
DES will also coordinate with the Arizona Department of Education to identify eligible households who do not already participate in SNAP. Such households will receive Electronic Benefit Transfer cards with benefits beginning in early May.
In addition to Pandemic School Meal Replacement Benefits, eligible SNAP households will receive the maximum amount of benefits allotted for their household size for April and May, as authorized in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
GPS tech support for families
Gilbert Public Schools has adjusted the opening time for its drive-thru and phone tech support for families who have a student with a technical issue with a district-issued Chromebook.
Phone service is available 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday at 480-497-3417. Parents will need their child’s name, campus and Student ID number when they call.
In some cases, the family will be asked to set an appointment for drive-thru service, which is available 7 a.m.-6 p.m. by appointment only at GPS Technology Services, 35 N. Greenfield Road, Gilbert.
The number of COVID-19 cases reported April 21 in the six ZIP codes that serve Gilbert is 147, up six from the previous day.
The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 5,251 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on April 21, including 208 deaths. Maricopa County has had 2,719 positive cases, including 84 deaths.
Information from April 20 can be found here.
Information from April 13-19 can be found here.
Information from April 6-12 can be found here.
Information from March 30-April 5 can be found here.
Information from March 27-29 can be found here.
Information from March 24-26 can be found here.
Information from March 20-23 can be found here.
Information from March 12-20 can be found here.
Community Impact Newspaper Editor Alexa D'Angelo contributed to this report.