Financial Assistance Available for Families that Qualify for Free or Reduced School Meals
Posted on 06/15/2020
Photo: Tennessee Department of Human Services LogoThe Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) and the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) announced Tennessee families are now eligible to receive financial support for their children’s nutritional needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program provides the support that would include $5.70 per child for each day the child qualifies for P-EBT up to $256.50.

Under the new P-EBT program, families of children who receive free or reduced meals at school or attend a Community Eligibility Provision school, which is a school where all children receive free meals, may receive financial assistance. The state designed the support to replace school meals missed during March, April, and May when schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parents who already receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits do not need to apply. The funds began arriving on the parent’s EBT card last Friday. Parents who do not receive SNAP benefits, but whose children qualify for free or reduced school meals, or attend a school where all meals are free to children (Community Eligibility Provision school), will need to apply for P-EBT online. Those can apply online here today. The application period will end on June 29, 2020.

Individuals who need assistance completing their P-EBT application or have general questions about the program are encouraged to call the TDHS hotline at 1-833-496-0661 and select option 3. Qualifying families will receive P-EBT support in two installments.

Throughout the COVID-19 school closures, Hamilton County Schools continued to provide meals at schools with drive-thru pickup and bus delivery for families in the community. Food distribution continues in select schools during the summer to offer student meals. Receiving these meals does not disqualify a family from the P-EBT program.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture to approve states for Pandemic EBT (P-EBT). Approved state agencies may operate P-EBT when a school is closed for at least five consecutive days during a public health emergency designation when the school would otherwise be in session. Tennessee is among the more than 40 states that have received P-EBT approval.

Learn more about the Tennessee Department of Human Services at