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Food program connecting Texas children, families with meals amid COVID-19 pandemic

There's a statewide effort to connect families and their children with meals.

BEAUMONT, Texas — Feeding the children- it's a burden many families are facing during this pandemic. For months we've seen food insecurity rates skyrocket across Southeast Texas, but it seems as if families could have a weight lifted off their shoulders. 

Hard times are being met with some much-needed help. There's a statewide effort to connect families and their children with meals.  

The Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer program, better known as P-EBT, has been extended through Aug. 21, 2020, for eligible families.

Child Nutrition Director of Beaumont ISD Tiffany Eckenrod said this couldn’t have come at a better time.

“We're excited about that because we know there are children here in Southeast Texas, specially at Beaumont ISD, that would benefit from P-EBT,” Eckenrod said.

This second extension came after millions eligible school children didn't apply for the federal aid

"3.6 is an alarming number because there are so many hungry children in our states and in our communities,” Eckenrod said.

The goal is to fill the gap of free or discounted schools meals due to schools' shut down. Families could receive up to $285 per child.

There are a few groups that qualify for these extended benefits:

  • Children up to 21-years-old who received free or reduced lunch
  • Families who received snap benefits
  • Students 5 through 19-years-old

Infants and toddlers aren’t eligible for these benefits.

Eckenrod says it's necessary that families take advantage of this aid.

"I would tell people to get online, and make those applications," Eckenrod said. "It benefits them, and it's something that's there for the offering. Obviously, with the amount of people left across the state of Texas that have not, there is a push to make sure that everyone that can and should apply make the application."

Families can apply by locating the link sent by their school district or by visiting their social media pages.

You can apply over the phone by calling P-EBT call center at 833-613-6220. If denied, those in need are advised to contact P-EBT within 15 days of receiving the denial notice.

"I would tell people to get online and make those applications," Port Arthur Child Nutritionist Robin Rhodes said. "It benefits them."

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