If your children qualify for free or reduced lunch and have been in remote learning at any point during the 2020-’21 school year, you are eligible for up to $1,248 per child to cover meal expenses.
The money comes from the federal government’s Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program, or P-EBT. The program supports families with children who would have received free or reduced price meals at a school but have been learning virtually.
Benefits will be distributed in four payments from March 25 to Sept. 25. All families with children who attended school virtually at any point during this school year and were eligible for free or reduced price meals in the 2019-’20 or 2020-’21 school years are eligible.
Students who do not individually qualify for free or reduced lunch but attend a school where all students receive free or reduced lunch through the federal government’s Community Eligibility Provision program also are eligible.
You can see a full list of Wisconsin schools participating in the Community Eligibility Provision here.
The P-EBT benefits have the same restrictions as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known in Wisconsin as FoodShare, meaning you cannot use them for purchases prohibited by FoodShare.
If you are already receiving FoodShare, P-EBT benefits will automatically be uploaded to your QUEST card starting on March 25.
If you are not currently receiving FoodShare but are receiving free or reduced-price school meals, you should soon receive a white P-EBT card in the mail that your benefits will be automatically loaded onto.
If you are not currently receiving FoodShare nor receiving free or reduced-price meals, you may still qualify. Contact your child’s school about enrolling in free or reduced-price meals.
Sherrie Tussler, executive director of the Hunger Task Force, said that even families who have used meal distribution programs at schools, such as MPS’ “Stop, Grab and Go” meals, are still eligible for the program.
“Meals during the school year, including grab-and-go programs and meal packs distributed at schools, were billed to a different program dealing with summer meals,” Tussler explained. “So taking advantage of those meals does not disqualify you for P-EBT.”
To answer questions about the program, the Hunger Task Force is hosting webinars every Friday at 10 a.m. in English and 11 a.m. in Spanish. You can register for a webinar in English here and Spanish here.