If you have school-aged children, you could get $285 for groceries, regardless of income. Here’s how

HOUSTON – With kids at home and indoors more often right now, your summer grocery bills may be higher. If you could use some extra money, getting it may be as simple as asking for it. The United States Department of Agriculture is sending many families nearly $300, regardless of their income. Think of it as a second stimulus but you have to use the money to pay for groceries.

What is it?

The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) was approved by the USDA for students who receive free and reduced lunches. Since schools were closed in mid-March, the federal government is sending $285 on a P-EBT card. These are benefits students would have received in free meals at schools were it not canceled.

Since some school districts, like Houston ISD, have so many low-income students that qualify for the benefit, it is offered to every student, regardless of the family’s income. You must apply to receive the money.

“If you have a student who goes to an HISD school, you are eligible,” said Jarad Davis, HISD’s Director for Wrap Around Services. “Why? Because of a provision that we have, all HISD students receive free lunch. Regardless of your income, you’re eligible for this benefit. We don’t want anything to get in the way of you taking advantage of this benefit.”

Every student in these school districts can get the $285, no matter their family’s income.

We checked with Houston-area school districts. Some districts do not offer free breakfast and reduced lunches district-wide, but they have some schools within their district that offer every child the benefit. If your child attends one of those schools, they can get the $285 P-EBT card.

If your child goes to school in any of these districts, they are eligible for the card: Aldine, Alief, Angleton, Channelview, Damon, Galena Park, Houston and Huffman ISDs.

How to apply

You must apply online by Aug. 21 (this deadline was extended from July 31). Visit Your Texas Benefits to complete the application. You will need your child’s student ID number from their school and their social security number. If you have more than one child on free or reduced lunch, you can add them to the same application and receive an additional $285 per child.

If your child is on SNAP, you don't need to apply. You will automatically see the $285 loaded onto your account.

When you receive the P-EBT card in the mail, you will have up to a year to use it.