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Some families can get $375 in pandemic assistance per child. Do you qualify?

A family grabs dinner at Neighborhood House in Salt Lake City on March 30, 2021. Utah will receive a summer round of pandemic food assistance, bringing $375 per child to families in need.

A family grabs dinner at Neighborhood House in Salt Lake City on March 30, 2021. Utah will receive a summer round of pandemic food assistance, bringing $375 per child to families in need. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)



SALT LAKE CITY — Utah will receive a summer round of pandemic food assistance, bringing $375 per child to families in need.

The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, or P-EBT program, started in spring and families with children whose schools went to virtual or hybrid schedules received direct payments to help them buy food.

This new round of funding is available to all students on free or reduced-cost meal plans at their schools, including those who apply by Aug. 1, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

"Together, these programs will provide valuable aid to households with children who continue to struggle in the wake of the pandemic," Neil Rickard, child nutrition advocate for Utahns Against Hunger, said in a statement.

Utahns Against Hunger urges parents whose household income has fallen over the past year — and who did not apply for free or reduced-price meals last school year — to reach out to their schools as soon as possible to establish eligibility for the program. For a family of four, the income must fall below $49,025 before taxes to qualify. A tool to determine eligibility is available at benefits.gov/benefit/1991.

"Families that didn't sign up for free or reduced meals can still get the Summer P-EBT if they complete an application before Aug. 1. Given that many schools operate with a smaller staff during the summer, we really encourage people to complete a free or reduced meals application as soon as possible to make sure they can be on the books in time for the P-EBT rollout," Rickard said.

For those already enrolled in the free and reduced-cost meal program, benefits will be added directly onto their P-EBT or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cards. The money is expected to make its way to families starting at the end of August.

The funding can only be used for purchasing nonprepared foods like bread and cereals, fruits and vegetables, meats, fish and poultry, dairy products, plants and seeds to grow food, according to the Department of Workforce Services.

"For Utahns who have been struggling with the impact of the pandemic, the P-EBT program has delivered direct assistance to help them afford food for their households," Rickard said. "EBT technology is an effective tool in the fight against hunger — it is efficient and delivers assistance directly to those who need it."

Households that believe they may be eligible for the program should contact their schools and request an application for free and reduced-price meals. More information can be found at jobs.utah.gov/covid19/pebt/.

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