Meal benefits for SWFL students who missed school due to COVID-19

Published: July 26, 2022 5:27 AM EDT
Updated: July 26, 2022 6:44 AM EDT

More than two million children in Florida get free and reduced meals, and kids who missed school because of the pandemic are eligible for more benefits, but the deadline is quickly approaching.

Parents have to go to their child’s school and ask them to provide a document verifying their child was home because of COVID-19. Then they have to take that document to the Florida Department of Children and Families website and complete a P-EBT application.

Students must meet three requirements:

  1. They go to a school that has the free and reduced lunch program
  2. They qualify for that program or another food assistance program
  3. They missed school and some of those meals because of a COVID-19-related absence.

What qualifies as a COVID-19-related absence is any absence where the school directs the student to stay home, like a school-ordered quarantine or an absence because a parent kept their child home due to a positive test or possible exposure to the virus. Parents can get around $7.10 per child per day. Unlike last year, though, benefits will not automatically be given to parents without going through the P-EBT process.

“I know that might not seem like a lot, but my thing is parents kept their kids home for a week or two, and if they have more than one child, then it could, you know, it could equal some funds to be able to help to support for some food assistance,” said Kim Johnson, president and CEO of Florida Impact to End Hunger. “And then they could use that cash that they have left over to be able to pay right now, with the price of rent.”

Students who attended school virtually are not eligible. This is the last week to apply for this program.