Food benefits for students whose learning was affected by COVID-19
Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) is a federal program that provides food benefits to the families of children who may be experiencing greater need because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The School P-EBT is a type of P-EBT that provides money for families to buy food if their children were unable to get free or reduced price meals at school because they were absent or were learning from home for COVID-19-related reasons during the 2022-2023 school year. Students must meet certain eligibility requirements to be able to receive benefits. Getting these benefits has no effect on immigration status.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) prepared a plan for school year 2022-2023 in partnership with the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Department of Children and Families. This plan detailed how benefits would be issued to both school-age children (through the School P-EBT program) and non-school-age children (through the Pre-6 P-EBT program). This plan was the first in the nation to be approved by our federal partners.
This year, the federal government advised us and other states that a new limited group of children may be eligible for School P-EBT benefits for the 2022-2023 school year.
The program guidelines for the 2022-2023 school year are similar to last 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 in each month that those students were absent for COVID-related reasons or were learning from home during the 2022-2023 school year.
- Once DHS receives all the information needed to find out if a child is eligible, we send benefits to their family on the next scheduled date for benefits to go out.
- When DHS sends the benefits, we also send each family a letter in the mail that explains how much they got, for which children, and for what months.
Families will receive $8.18 for each P-EBT Eligible Day that is reported for an eligible child. If you have questions about your child’s eligibility or about the benefit you received, call the P-EBT Support Team at 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 school district
- The number of days that your child was absent for a COVID-related reason or was learning from home in each month of the 2022-2023 school year. To help your school or district confirm this information, 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 claim.
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.
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.
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Browse our dictionary of terms (including acronyms!) that we use when we talk about the 2021-2022 P-EBT program.
A child may be eligible for School P-EBT benefits if they are enrolled to receive for free or reduced price meals (FRPL) through the National School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program at their school. To be considered, the child must be approved to receive meals by their school and be on file as receiving meals with the Department of Public Instruction. The 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.
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 2022-2023 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 or School Breakfast Program.
- Your child is potentially eligible for School P-EBT benefits starting the date they were determined by their school as being eligible for free or reduced price meals in the 2022-2023 school year.
- Applications for free or reduced price meals are submitted to your child’s school. Please contact your child’s school for an application if they are not already enrolled to receive meals.
- If your child attends a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school where all meals are provided for free, you do not need to apply. All children at CEP schools are considered part of the free or reduced price meal program.
- 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, this means no children at that school are eligible for benefits this year. Finally, the child will only be considered for School P-EBT benefits on the days that they were reported by their district as either being absent for a COVID-related reason or as learning from home. In other words, a child will only be considered for School P-EBT benefits on days that they were not able to receive their free or reduced price meal in person as they usually would.
Children may still be eligible even if they have had access to “grab and go” meals offered by their schools.
The federal government advised DHS that a new limited group of children may be eligible for School P-EBT benefits for the 2022-2023 school year.
This new limited group of children will need to have either:
- Left an in-person National School Lunch Program (NSLP) school at some point since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic (January 27, 2020) due to concerns about COVID-19 to either enroll in a fully virtual institution or begin homeschooling, OR
- Be entering second grade or below as of the start of the 2022-2023 school year, be enrolled in a fully virtual institution or be homeschooled, and have never been enrolled in an in-person school due to concerns about COVID-19.
These children are now potentially eligible for benefits because, if not for COVID-19, they would likely be enrolled in an in-person, NSLP-participating school now, be receiving free or reduced price meals at that school, and therefore could have been considered for School P-EBT benefits under the traditional consideration process.
To be considered for 2022-2023 School P-EBT benefits as part of this new limited group, a parent or guardian must complete an application online at 22-23 School P-EBT Application for Students Opting for Homeschooling or Virtual Learning (COVID- 19). As part of that application, the parent or guardian must also include specific documents that verify the household’s size, income level, and the child’s learning mode.
Applications can be submitted from now until May 19, 2023.
Benefits will be issued on a case-by-case basis only to families who apply and whose children are verified as having met all program criteria. Eligible students will be issued $147.24 per month that they meet program criteria during the 2022-2023 school year as long as the federal Public Health Emergency remains in place.
Benefits release schedule
The benefit amount is added to a family’s existing QUEST or P-EBT card if they have one, according to the benefits release schedule. If a family does not have a QUEST or P-EBT card, benefits will be loaded onto a new P-EBT card and mailed to them.
|Eligible month||Benefits issued|
|August 2022, September 2022, October 2022||January 21, 2023|
|November 2022, December 2022, January 2023||March 18, 2023|
|February 2023, March 2023, April 2023*||May 20, 2023*|
|May 2023, June 2023*||July 15, 2023*|
*Eligible months and benefits release dates are subject to change based on the status of the federal public health emergency.
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.