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California families with children who qualify for free or reduced-priced meals will begin receiving a one-time benefit of up to $365 per child for food starting Tuesday.

The extra funds are part of the state’s Pandemic Emergency Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program, which seeks to help families purchase food while schools are shuttered during the COVID-19 emergency.

“With schools currently closed throughout California, many students have lost access to meals they normally receive on campus,” California Department of Social Services Director Kim Johnson said. “These additional food benefits will help families put food on the table during this time of great need.”

Eligibility for the P-EBT program extends to students who are picking up “to-go” meals through school.

The benefits will be uploaded onto a card and are being mailed out this month. Eligible recipients can expect the payments to arrive beginning Tuesday and through May 22, according to CDSS.

The agency outlined the following payment schedule for eligible children, totaling up to $365 over four months:

March 2020: $68 per child
April 2020: $120 per child
May 2020: $120 per child
June 2020: $57 per child

Those who already receive CalFresh, Medi-Cal or Foster Care benefits will get the funds by mail automatically.

Families with children who are eligible to receive free or reduced-priced meals should apply online if they do not get a P-EBT card by May 22, according to the CDSS.

Applications can be filled out online starting May 22 at They are due before June 30.

P-EBT benefits will be retroactive, officials said.

California has seen a spike in demand for food stamps and food assistance as unemployment skyrocketed after the state ordered many businesses to close to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

More than 4.5 million Californians have filed for unemployment benefits since March 12, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday.

To help struggling families during the public health emergency, the state last month began allowing recipients of CalFresh to use their EBT cards to buy food online from Amazon and Walmart.

The CalFresh program — the state’s version of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — aims to helping lower-income individuals and families buy more nutritious and healthier foods. Beneficiaries receive up to $194 per month.

To apply for CalFresh benefits, go to or call 866-613-3777.