PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Some families whose children receive free or reduced meals at Arizona schools will be getting some extra money to buy groceries. It's aimed at supporting the families who've had their children enrolled in distance learning during the 2020-2021 school year.

The payments will be loaded directly onto existing EBT cards.

Buying groceries

Families in need will be getting some extra money to buy groceries.

The amount of money families receive will vary depending on a school's learning model. If a child spent an entire month at home doing distance learning, then the family will get a full payment for that month which can be up to $150. If a child had a month of in-person and at-home learning, then the family might get a partial payment. 

Families who received meals or snacks through curbside or delivery during distance learning will still qualify for the grocery money.

"I am so thankful for the collaboration between (Arizona Department of Education) ADE and DES (Department of Economic Security) to provide this federal assistance to Arizona families," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman in a statement. "Too many families have struggled with food and economic insecurity due to the pandemic over the last year. The P-EBT program will have an immediate and direct impact for Arizona's families and students."

Organizations like United Food Bank are applauding the new program. They say the pandemic has increased the need for help as families lost jobs and wages.

According to United Food Bank, the number of hungry kids in Arizona has gone up, with one in four kids in our state being food insecure. They're hoping these payments can help make a difference.

"It will take some pressure off of us," said United Food Bank Vice President Tyson Nansel. "But we understand that those who are still continuing without work, kids not being able to go to the schools and get that food, you know, you won't be judged when you come to the food bank."


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