Food benefits for students whose school attendance was affected by COVID-19
School Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) is a program that provides benefits for families to buy food if their children were unable to get free or reduced price meals at school because they were absent for COVID-19-related reasons or were learning at home during the 2021-2022 school year. Getting these benefits has no effect on immigration status.
Here’s how the program has been working for the 2021—2022 school year:
- School districts have been reporting to DHS which of their students are enrolled to receive free or reduced price meals at their schools.
- School districts have also been reporting the number of days those students were absent for COVID-related reasons or learned from home during the 2021-2022 school year.
- Once DHS received all the information needed to find out a child was eligible, we have been sending benefits to their family on the next scheduled date for benefits to go out.
- After we send the benefits, we have also been sending each family a letter in the mail that explained how much they got, for which children, and for what months.
Families receive $7.10 for each P-EBT Eligible Day that is reported for an eligible child. The amount is added to a QUEST or P-EBT card roughly every five weeks, according to the benefits release schedule.
|Benefit Months||Benefits Issued|
|August, September, October 2021||March 5, 2022|
|November and December 2021||April 9, 2022|
|January and February 2022||May 14, 2022|
|March and April 2022||June 18, 2022|
|May and June 2022||July 23, 2022|
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Browse our dictionary of terms (including acronyms!) that we use when we talk about the 2021-2022 P-EBT program.
Your child is eligible to receive School P-EBT benefits if they qualify for free or reduced price meals through the National School Lunch Program at their school. Their school must also have been closed or operating with reduced attendance or hours for at least five consecutive days due to the COVID-19 emergency during the current school year.
Children are still eligible even if they have had access to “grab and go” meals offered by their schools.
School P-EBT is not a replacement for other food assistance. If your family does not already receive FoodShare benefits, please visit the ACCESS website to check your eligibility and apply. To find other food resources in your community, call 211.
Is your child part of the free or reduced price meal program at their school?
To be eligible for School P-EBT, your child’s qualification for free or reduced price meals must be on record with their school district and the state, and their school must participate in the USDA’s National School Lunch Program.
- Your child is potentially eligible for School P-EBT benefits starting the date they were determined to be eligible for free or reduced price meals by their school.
- Applications for free or reduced price meals are submitted through your child’s school. Please contact your child’s school for an application if they are not already enrolled.
- If your child attends a Community Eligibility Provision school where all meals are provided for free, you do not need to apply.
- Note: Most students have access to free school meals this school year. This does NOT mean all students qualify for School P-EBT. School P-EBT relies on a student being eligible for free and reduced meals through the National School Lunch Program, not their ability to get free meals from the school.
- To check if your child’s school participates in the National School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, check this list of participating schools (PDF). If your child’s school is not on the list, please contact the school with questions. Students who attend certain fully virtual educational institutions are not eligible for P-EBT benefits. View the list of fully virtual educational institutions that are not eligible for P-EBT (PDF).
If you have questions about your child’s eligibility or about the benefit you received, call the P-EBT Support Team at 1-833-431-2224. Please be prepared to provide the following information:
- Your full name, date of birth, street address, city, state, zip code, phone number, email address
- Your case number, if you have it (if you received a P-EBT letter in the mail, your case number will be at the top)
- Your child's full name as it is on record with their school district, their date of birth, and gender
- The name of your child's school and their school district
- The number of days that your child was absent for a COVID-related reason or was learning from home in for the 2021-2022 school year. To help your school or district confirm the days you submit, we will ask you to provide exact dates and whether each was an absence or a learn-from-home day, if possible. Without this level of detail, schools may not be able to confirm your submission.
If you provide additional days for which you believe your child should have gotten benefits, the P-EBT Support Team will need to confirm that new number with your child’s school district.
Benefits are provided on a QUEST or P-EBT card.
- If your family has an active QUEST card or a P-EBT card, benefits are added to that card.
- If your family does not have an active QUEST card, you will get a P-EBT card in the mail. Once you receive it, please follow the instructions on the back of the card to activate it. Once activated, it is ready to use like a debit card to buy food. If you have any questions, please call QUEST Card Service at 877-415-5164.
School P-EBT benefits must be used within one year of the date they are put on the card. They can be used in any store that accepts FoodShare, like major grocery chains and convenience stores. You can use the benefits to buy food, including:
- Breads and cereals
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meat, fish, and poultry
- Dairy products
- Snack foods
Please remember that you cannot give your card to someone else. It is illegal to sell, trade, or give your School P-EBT benefits to another person.
If you have questions, contact us through our support email or call line.