BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland officials secured approval from the USDA for a new program to help feed 427,000 students affected by the coronavirus-related school closures.

These children, who normally benefit from the free or reduced lunch program, will now be eligible for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program. There’s an estimated $49 million in benefits.

Each child will receive $5.70 per day while the child’s school was closed, this includes retroactively obtaining benefits from March 16, when schools officially closed.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: 

“We are grateful to the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA for their responsiveness and to the Maryland Department of Education and Local School Districts for their partnership in identifying and enrolling eligible students’ families in the Pandemic-EBT program,” said Maryland Department of Human Services Secretary Lourdes R. Padilla. “Additionally, we thank Governor Larry Hogan, who has led the way in thinking strategically and has championed our determined efforts to explore every opportunity that can help vulnerable Marylanders during this crisis.”

March, April, and May benefits will be issued in June, and Pandemic-EBT benefits will continue to be issued for the duration that schools are closed due to COVID-19.

“While local school districts and agencies are distributing meals at over 600 emergency sites across the State, this additional P-EBT benefit will help sustain students and their families through the COVID-19 pandemic crisis,” said Dr. Karen B. Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools. “This federal-state-local partnership led by the Department of Human Services will dramatically help maximize the nutritional well-being of children in Maryland.”

Any Maryland household that has SNAP and qualifies for the Pandemic-EBT benefits will receive the additional benefits on their existing EBT card. If you’ve lost your EBT card, call the Maryland EBT Customer Call Center at 1-800-997-2222 to have a replacement card issued.

The Maryland Department of Education is working to identity non-SNAP households that qualify for Pandemic-EBT.

The latest Departmental updates and COVID-related resources can be found on the Department of Human Services’ website at http://dhs.maryland.gov/coronavirus.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.