ALABAMA (WHNT) – A food assistance program will help feed students across the state over summer break. The Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) plans to distribute funds to students who qualify for free and reduced lunch.

The Summer Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program, known as P-EBT, will provide food assistance to over 500,000 students who qualify.

Children and families can apply by way of the National School Lunch Program through their schools.

DHR Executive Director of Food Assistance Brandon Hardin says providing food benefits over the summer is critical for some students.

“With everything families are facing and the decisions that they have to make at the grocery store, additional dollars to be able to meet those food needs during the summer is critical,” Hardin told News 19.

DHR will distribute a one-time payment of $120 to the families of children who qualify for the program. Students who are already receiving free or reduced lunch will qualify and must apply for the summer benefits by May 16.

New students on free or reduced lunch will be mailed food assistance cards with benefit rollouts beginning during the mid-part of the summer.

With food insecurities for students reaching higher levels in the summer, officials hope the program will work toward helping with the issue.