With schools closed, program to help students who need meals

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana has been granted federal authority to help feed more than 611,000 students during the coronavirus pandemic.

The state announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the OK to provide the assistance for families of children in kindergarten through 12th grade who normally get free or reduced-price school meals. State public schools closed March 16.

A news release from the state says local school systems will notify families they might be eligible for the program known as P-EBT. Those families can apply through a P-EBT portal on the Louisiana Department of Education website beginning Monday. The application deadline is June 7.

Once the child’s information is verified, the state family services department will mail a P-EBT debit card loaded with $285 per child. Recipients will also receive instructions for using the cards that can be used to buy food items eligible under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program at stores that accept SNAP cards.

The news release from the state Department of Education and the Department of Children and Family Services says officials expect to begin mailing cards May 26. Benefits will be available for 365 days.

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