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Low-Income Families With Students To Receive Benefits

Shelves in a grocery store full of food.
Mehrad Vosoughi
Janee Harvey said pre-packaged lunches for families to pick up do not always comply with allergies nor do they allow families to eat the foods of their culture. The P-EBT funds can be used for any food items.

All Iowa families with students in the National School Lunch Program who received free or reduced meals should expect some relief this week.

Families with children in the program will receive $307.80 per child on Wednesday. Parents should expect the funds to arrive in the mail on a Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) card.

Janee Harvey is the division administrator for adult, children and family services at the Department of Human Services. She said some schools have provided pre-packaged food during the pandemic, but it isn’t enough.

“By issuing these benefits in the form of a card that really functions more like a debit card, this will give families and caregivers the flexibility they need in order to purchase food that meets their children’s needs," Harvey said.

Iowa was a little later than other states to release the funds that were allocated through the Family First Coronavirus Response Act. Harvey said this is because the state organized an automatic qualification for the funds as opposed to applying for them.

The Department of Human Services partnered with the Department of Education so all students who received free or reduced school lunches as of March 16, 2020 will automatically be sent the financial benefits.

“So it took us a little bit longer getting our plan together, but ultimately we’re able to get these benefits out in a much more efficient and covering all eligible students," Harvey said.

Harvey said if families don’t receive the card in the mail by next week, they should contact the Department of Human Services.