Pandemic EBT 2020-2021: Food Benefits for Students Learning at Home

Food Benefits for Students Learning from Home

School Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) is a program that provides benefits for families to buy food if their children were not getting free or reduced price meals because they were learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the 2020-2021 school year, eligible families will receive benefits as early as Spring 2021 that go back to the beginning of the school year. Some families have not yet received benefits because we are getting contact information for families and  confirming that children meet program rules. We are working to get families the benefits they qualify for as quickly as we can, and we appreciate your help in gathering this information.


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 confirms the child learned from home for at least part of the 2020-2021 school year.

Benefits have no effect on immigration status, and 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.

Free or reduced price meals

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.

  • If your child is determined to be eligible for free or reduced price meals at any point in the 2020-2021 school year, then they are eligible for School P-EBT retroactively to the beginning of the school year.
    • If your child attends a Community Eligibility Provision school where all meals are provided for free, you do not need to apply for free or reduced price meals.
    • 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.
  • To check if your child’s school participates in the National School Lunch program, check this list of participating schools (PDF). If your child’s school is not on the list, please contact the school with questions.

Learning from home

For a child to be eligible for School P-EBT, the state of Wisconsin must get information from their school that tells us the child learned from home. We are working with schools across the state to get their most up-to-date information.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has given School P-EBT and Pre-6 P-EBT guidance to Wisconsin for the 2021-22 school year. DHS is currently evaluating the guidance and drafting a plan to submit to USDA for approval. This webpage will be updated with more information about these programs as it becomes available.

Looking for the Student Virtual Learning Verification letter template? Schools can use this template on their letterhead and fill in the required information to provide DHS verification that a child learned from home during months of the 2020-2021 school year, when most of the students in their grade learned in person. Once the letter is filled out, families or schools can email a copy to the P-EBT Support Team.

The Student Virtual Learning Verification letter template is mentioned in the letter sent to families the week of June 28 notifying them if their child will get P-EBT.

Want to know more?


Illustration of two children holding hands 


Benefits are calculated based on the number of days that a child did not have access to meals at school because they learned from home; $6.82 will be provided for each of these days. Because how students are learning is different between schools and grade levels, benefits many be different between children in the same family, and they may change from month to month.

  • If your family has an active QUEST card, benefits will be added to that card.
  • If your family does not have an active QUEST card, you will get a P-EBT card in the mail with the benefits loaded on it. Once you receive it, please follow the instructions on the back of the card to activate it. Once activated, it can be used 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

See a more detailed list of items you can and cannot buy with these benefits.

To check the balance on your card, go to the ebtEDGE website or use the ebtEDGE mobile app. If you lose your card, call QUEST Card Service at 877-415-5164. 


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.

For Assistance

If you have questions, contact us through our support email or call line.

    Last Revised: September 20, 2021

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