School lunch box with healthy food

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that Colorado will be among the states where families whose children received free or reduced-price meals at schools will receive extra food assistance during the pandemic.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which passed Congress in March, stipulated that when a school is closed for five or more consecutive days during a public health emergency, a household containing children eligible for the free and reduced-price meals program would receive alternative food assistance.

States must submit a Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer plan to the USDA for approval. Michigan was the first state on April 9 to receive authorization. Colorado’s participation in the program was announced at the same time as Wyoming’s and Missouri’s, bringing the total number of approved states to around 30.

In Colorado, 363,217 children were eligible for free and reduced-price lunch in the 2019-2020 school year, which amounted to approximately 43% of the student population. “The household allotment amount will be no less than the value of school meals at the free rate over the course of five (5) school days for each eligible child in the household,” the USDA wrote in its guidance to states.

Households that automatically receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits will not need to do anything to receive the pandemic allocation, but nonparticipating households will need an application.

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