Every student in the Chicago Public Schools system will receive more than $450 in the mail this month to supplement food costs.
The benefits will be funded through a federal pandemic relief program, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Families are eligible to receive the added benefit regardless of immigration status.
The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer, an offshoot of the EBT system, is intended to help students who qualify for free or reduced breakfast and lunch and who haven’t had access to school meals during the coronavirus pandemic. Since the school district participates in a federal program that provides free lunch to all of its students, every CPS student will automatically receive the added benefits.
The cards will look like debit cards and can be used at any grocery store that accepts EBT. Illinois officials ask families to be on the lookout for the cards in the mail, so they are not mistakenly thrown away. If parents have recently moved, they should immediately update their school with their current address.
The first of the funds will be distributed in the first half of March with $6.82 loaded onto the cards for each school day through December that students were in remote learning. Another set of cards will be distributed in April with benefits for January through March. A monthly benefit will begin in May for the rest of the school year.
Students who return to part-time in-person learning will only be eligible to receive the benefits for the days they are learning remotely. Students will have access to in-school meals on the days they attend school in-person.
About one million students throughout the state will qualify for similar benefits.