Valley families to see assistance from new food benefit program

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — In the next few weeks, parents who have students that qualify for free or reduced meals in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, like around the state, should receive a Pandemic Benefit Transfer Card for food assistance.

The program is provided through the U.S Department of Agriculture and families who fit that criteria will receive a card through the mail with money on it, to use like an EBT card.

Andrea Early, Executive Director of School Nutrition for Harrisonburg City Public Schools, said the program will help out more than 5,300 students in the school division.

Early said some cards will have close to $370 loaded on them that families can use at any type of grocery store that accepts SNAP benefits.

The money will roll over from month to month but after one year, the benefits will be removed from the card.

Early said this is not a replacement program but another benefit for families who rely on schools to feed students.

"We're working really hard to make sure we continue to meet students' nutrition needs during the closure," Early said. "Especially during the summer and these benefits are just a great supplement to what's already in place."

It is still uncertain if the program will continue into the fall, but for now, it's a one-time program.

Many families who are eligible for the program have already been contacted and do not have to take part if they choose not to.

Early said the school division will also continue to serve curbside meals at participating schools on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer.

For more information on those locations, click here.