Thousands of Minnesota families eligible for a one-time benefit to help pay for food for their children have not yet applied for the money — and will soon run out of time.

The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, also known as P-EBT, provides a one-time, $325 benefit to families with children who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, or who attend a school where all students receive free meals. The goal: to keep kids fed while they are not receiving meals at school.

The application deadline, which has already been extended once this summer, is July 31.

About 350,000 Minnesota students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch. But as of July 17, the Minnesota Department of Human Services said it had issued the P-EBT benefit to about 216,000 children. In more than two dozen school districts, none of the families eligible for the benefit had applied.

In a statement, the department said its staff members are "working with community partners to target specific areas of the state with lower enrollment numbers."

Families who apply for the benefit may also qualify for an additional $100 for summer meals. The funds are distributed on a card that can be used at grocery stores, farmers markets, and for online food purchases through Amazon and Walmart.

Information about the P-EBT benefit, and other emergency food programs, is available on the Minnesota Department of Human Services website.

CORRECTION: Story updated to correct state agency offering information.

Erin Golden