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Families of children eligible for free or reduced-priced meals at school will get $5.70 for each day school has been canceled

A new federal program will give low-income California families money for groceries to feed their children.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Pandemic Electronic Transfer program will pay each family $5.70 per child for each day school has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, up to $365 per child. The money is roughly equivalent to the cost of the meals the children would have received through the free or reduced-price meal program had they been in school.

“The Covid-19 crisis has placed additional economic strain on some of our families that were already struggling to put food on the table,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “This program provides critical food assistance so that our students who are economically challenged households can get the nutritious meals at home they need to thrive.”

The program will provide about $1.4 billion collectively to California families.

The California Department of Social Services will automatically issue electronic payment cards to families identified as being certified for the school meal program in early May. If families don’t receive a card they can apply online before June 30. The online application will launch in late May.

Students who are eligible for this program can still receive school meals at designated pick-up sites and can continue to receive CalFresh benefits if eligible.