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How are free school meals being distributed?

Last Updated: 10/19/2020

School Meals

To ensure no child goes hungry during this public health emergency, the New Jersey Department of Education is working with school officials to continue distributing free meals for eligible students.

Check with your local school district to learn how they are distributing free meals.

Note: Under Executive Order No. 175, all school districts participating in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, must offer meals to all children, regardless of eligibility, when the school day involves at least four hours of in-person or remote instruction.

Special Pandemic-EBT Benefits Card Issued

In addition, special Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) benefits are being provided to children who normally receive free or reduced-price school meals. For the 2019-2020 school year, benefits were sent to eligible families. Families received up to $416.10 for each eligible student for nutritional support during the time that schools moved to remote learning during the pandemic.

For the 2020-2021 school year, P-EBT benefits in the amount of $99.62 per eligible child are being issued for students receiving free- or reduced-price school meals and are attending schools with a remote learning schedule of at least 5 consecutive days. (This benefit is not available for students at schools conducting classes in person or a hybrid of in-person and remote that don't meet that definition.)

No application is necessary. The majority of P-EBT eligible families participating in SNAP will receive their benefit on their household's existing Families First EBT card. All other P-EBT eligible households were mailed a P-EBT card. More information is available on the P-EBT page.

Additional Resources

Families in need of food, cash, or other assistance, can learn about what programs are available and how to apply at New Jersey's official COVID-19 website.

To find a food bank in your community, refer to this directory.

Source: https://www.state.nj.us/education/topics/COVID19%20Frequently%20Asked%20Questions%20(FAQ)%20Related%20to%20School%20Emergency%20Preparedness%20Plans.pdf; https://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200511d.shtml; https://nj.gov/humanservices/news/pressreleases/2020/approved/20203006m.html; Executive Order No. 175