Families of nearly 260,000 students in Louisiana will soon receive a new debit card pre-filled with funds for groceries this summer, following the reauthorization of a federal program aimed at helping kids who couldn’t access free or reduced-price meals in their schools during the pandemic.
Some students will be eligible for up to $1,200 from the Pandemic EBT, or P-EBT program, depending on how many months they learned from home during the 2020-21 school year. The cards should go out in the mail starting in June, according to Louisiana’s Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS).
Officials said eligible students who learned on a combined schedule of remote and in-person learning will receive $48.23 for every month they were in hybrid learning. Eligible students who attended virtually will receive $120.71 per month. Benefits will be retroactive to Aug. 1, 2020, to cover the full 2020-21 school year.
Shavana Howard, the assistant secretary for DCFS, said that families would be receiving their cards even if they took advantage of grab-and-go meals provided by schools or school districts.
“It speaks to the level of support and level of help people really need in order to meet their daily needs,” Howard said of the P-EBT and other food service programs. “That’s what our programs are here for.”
The benefits follow a year of difficulties for kids and families. Job losses and school disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic fell particularly hard on lower-income families. This is the second wave of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service benefit, one of several federal relief efforts approved by Congress to soften the economic blow from COVID-19.