In order to reduce the impact of the pandemic on our community, many school districts have opted for remote learning, meaning many students will be learning from home this year rather than from classroom. While this important decision reduces the risk of families contracting or spreading COVID-19, it also introduces increased financial burden to families that relied on free or reduced-price meals at school and now must adjust their finances to feed their children at home.
To lessen this burden, Washington state, in partnership with the federal government, has introduced the temporary Pandemic EBT, or P-EBT, program to increase the amount of food funding available to families with K-12 children who qualify for free- or reduced-price school meals.
How does P-EBT work?
The maximum benefit for P-EBT is a $399 one-time payment per child. The amount your household receives depends on the number of children in your home that receive free- or reduced- price school meals. Families with children whose finances changed so that they became eligible for free or reduced-price meals after their school closed in 2020 will get less than $399 per child, depending on when your family applied for free- or reduced-price meals.
P-EBT benefits do not replace any child nutrition program already offered, and families are encouraged to continue participating in grab-n-go meals or emergency food programs at their local schools and community locations, even if they receive P-EBT benefits. Visit this link for a list of emergency food resources available during the pandemic.
P-EBT benefits also do not impact a parent or child’s immigration status. Immigrant households are welcome to apply.
How do I apply for P-EBT?
Most families who receive Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP) or Basic Food benefits and whose children receive free or reduced-price meals do not need to apply. The P-EBT benefits should have been automatically deposited onto existing EBT cards in early July.
Other families, including those whose children attend a school where meals are free for all students, will need to apply for P-EBT. Families with children who are newly eligible for free or reduced-price school meals must fill out a meal application with their school district before they apply for P-EBT.
Families with children who are eligible and approved by their school district for free or reduced-price meals and who do not currently get SNAP/Basic Food benefits, must apply for P-EBT before 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11. Families can apply online at online at www.washingtonconnection.org or by calling the DSHS Customer Service Contact Center at 877-501-2233 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.