Students in Iowa — including in 20 Cedar Rapids schools — who lost access to free and reduced-price meals when schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic will receive $307.80 from the state in food assistance benefits in the coming week.
The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) announced the $76.2 million food assistance distribution plan last week and said a total of 247,785 children across the state are eligible.
To be eligible, according to DHS, the child must have been enrolled in Pre-K through 12th grade in a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program, and the child received free or reduced meals as of March 16. Families did not need to apply to get food assistance.
Children in schools that provide free meals to all students are eligible, regardless of the family’s income status, according to the Gazette. This includes 20 schools in the Cedar Rapids Community School District and at Tate Alternative High School in Iowa City that participate in the Community Eligibility Provision. Under the provision, schools serve breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students without collecting individual meal applications.
The schools in Cedar Rapids are:
• Arthur, Cleveland, Garfield, Grant, Grant Wood, Harrison, Hiawatha, Hoover, Johnson, Kenwood, Nixon, Taylor, Van Buren and Wright elementary schools
• Franklin, McKinley, Roosevelt and Wilson middle schools
• Metro High School
• Polk Alternative Education Center
Those who are eligible will receive their food assistance benefits in one of two ways. If the household received food assistance benefits in April, May or June, then $307.80 for each eligible child will be put on the household’s Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card on Wednesday, July 15.
The remaining children will receive P-EBT cards in the mail between July 14 and 21. The cards will arrive in white envelopes with an Austin, Texas return address. There are instructions online on how to activate the card.
Watch your mail for this card! Pandemic food assistance benefits cards are being mailed to 153,431 Iowa children in the next two weeks. To learn more about who will receive these benefits please visit our website – https://t.co/zrEckpgkxI pic.twitter.com/sk1gUasoGf
— Iowa Department of Human Services (@IowaDHS) July 11, 2020
Families can use the card to purchase groceries wherever food assistance and SNAP food benefits are accepted, according to DHS. The department has answered frequently asked questions about the food assistance benefits on its website.