Pandemic EBT cards to be distributed to needy families in Mass.

Pandemic EBT cards to be distributed to needy families in Mass.

BOSTON — Families in Massachusetts with children who qualify for free or reduced-priced meals will soon receive some assistance from the federal government. The initiative is called Pandemic EBT and will cover the loss of meals during the statewide school closure.

500,000 kids will qualify for this program and Congress has approved $200 million in funding.

“It’s critical, even before COVID-19, kids are one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to hunger,” said Erin McAleer, president of Project Bread.

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Households that qualify will received $5.70 per student, per day. This will total nearly $400 to make up for missed meals since the school closure.

McAleer said this puts cash directly into the hands of those who need groceries the most. If your child qualifies for free or reduced-priced meals under the National School Lunch Program and already have SNAP benefits, the money will go right to your card, you won’t need to apply.

In districts like Boston, Lawrence and Salem, all students would qualify because of their district’s income-based policy.

“Those school districts that have adopted the community eligibility provision, what that means is the entire school district is providing free meals for every single student,” said McAleer.

If you don’t have EBT or SNAP already, your card should arrive this month. If it hasn’t and you believe you qualify, you can call the Project Bread hotline at 1-800-645-8333.

“It’s really critical that they have access. This program also allows family to purchase food that kids will eat, culturally-appropriate food and be able to go to the grocery store and purchase the food their kids will eat, which is another added benefit,” said McAleer.

Families who don’t need the assistance can simply throw the cards away, they are not transferable.

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