Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include the date in which residents can expect to get benefits in the pre-6 P-EBT program.
If you have children who were younger than 6 years old on Oct. 1, 2020, then you are eligible to receive money to cover meal expenses incurred if you were already enrolled in FoodShare.
The money comes from the Pandemic EBT program, or P-EBT. P-EBT reimburses families with children who would have received free or reduced-price meals at school or child care but did not get the meals because their school or child care facility closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
P-EBT benefits are loaded onto a QUEST card or P-EBT card and can be used for items covered by FoodShare Wisconsin, which helps those with limited incomes buy healthy food. This includes most groceries but not restaurants or most hot food. EBT stands for electronic benefits transfer, and the cards are the equivalent of food stamps.
Previously, this program was available only for parents of school-age children. But the federal government has created an additional P-EBT program to include children younger than age 6 who are not in school-so long as a family is not already receiving school-age P-EBT for a child.
To be eligible to receive this money, families must meet the following conditions:
- Have at least one child who was under age 6 on Oct. 1, 2020
- The household received FoodShare at some point since Oct. 1, 2020
- The household is NOT receiving P-EBT for school-age children
- The household lives in a county where at least one school had reduced hours or school closures during a given month to receive benefits for that month
Eligible families can receive $6.82 per child per day spent in virtual learning. The exact amount will vary based on how many schools in Southeast Wisconsin were learning in person compared with the number of schools learning virtually or using a hybrid model for a given month.
If the most common learning model in the region for a given month was fully in person with no virtual option, no child in the region will receive any pre-6 P-EBT. If the most common learning model was anywhere between in person with a virtual option and hybrid four days a week, all children in that region will receive 60% of the maximum pre-6 P-EBT benefit. If the most common learning model in the region was completely virtual, all children in that region will receive 100% of the max benefit.
Benefits will only be distributed for months that a family was enrolled in FoodShare. For instance, if an eligible family enrolled in FoodShare in January, it would not receive P-EBT for October through December.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services, or DHS, said this approach is based on guidance from the federal Department of Agriculture, which approved DHS’ implementation plan for the program.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services estimates that 92,000 families statewide will benefit from this program, which costs $68.6 million.
DHS leaders said Pre-6 P-EBT program applicants should get benefits starting on May 29i. Families do not need to do anything to get these benefits. (For updates on when and how benefits will be distributed, text “MKE” to 73224.)
School-age P-EBT has begun catching up on missing payments
DHS is still taking applications for those who believe they are eligible to receive P-EBT but did not receive benefits on their QUEST card or did not receive a letter notifying them of their eligibility for P-EBT in March.
If you meet the following conditions, you are eligible to receive P-EBT benefits for school-age children:
- Your child’s school participates in the National School Lunch Program. A list of schools participating in the program is here.
- You are eligible for free or reduced-price meals
- Your child spent at least one day in virtual learning during the 2020-’21 school year.
If you meet these conditions but did not receive additional funds on your QUEST card or a P-EBT card in the mail in late March, you should be receiving them shortly.
To inquire about your benefits, call 833-431-2224 or email PEBTsupport@wisconsin.gov. The phone line is staffed with people speaking both English and Spanish, and a translation service is available for other languages, including but not limited to Hmong, Arabic and Somali.
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