Illinois families with school-aged children eligible for free or reduced price meals at schools have until Aug. 31 to apply for nutrition benefits. On Aug. 12, Governor J. B. Pritzker announced that the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) was extending the deadline until the end of the month.

According to a press release from IDHS, eligible Illinois residents can receive food benefits totaling $342 per child through the state’s Illinois Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program. The department said that approximately 390,000 eligible students across the state have not yet applied for benefits for the 2020-21 school year.

Households already receiving SNAP benefits do not need to apply; the P-EBT food benefits will automatically be loaded into recipients’ Illinois LINK EBT account along with regular SNAP benefits.

The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which brings food benefits to all school-aged children from three to 17 years old and from 18 to 22 years old (and in high school) who were eligible for free or reduced meals at schools through the National School Lunch Program from March through June 2020, when schools were operating remotely due to COVID-19.

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