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Home » About OSPI » News Releases and Statements » COVID-19 Guidance & Resources » Nutrition & Meals Guidance » Pandemic EBT Guidance for School Districts

Pandemic EBT Guidance for School Districts

More Support for Families

P-EBT Information
dshs.wa.gov/pebt
1-833-518-0282

Other Food Benefits

  • This meal finder tool can help families find locations serving meals to children. Participating in these meal services does not prevent eligible children from getting P-EBT benefits. 
  • Contact your local school district to learn about free meal site locations in your area. 
  • Families can go to washingtonconnection.org to see if you qualify to get Basic Food benefits.      
  • Families with younger children may qualify for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, which provides food assistance to children up to the age of 5 and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

Due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the federal government launched Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) as a new option in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Pandemic EBT provides food benefits to eligible families in order to replace meals that students would have received, if not for disruptions to in-person instruction or school facility closure. 

Pandemic EBT benefits issued in May – August of 2020 were meant to replace meals from school year (SY) 2019–20. Pandemic EBT "2.0" will provide food benefits to replace meals missed during the 2020–21 school year. The P-EBT Summer Extension will provide food benefits during summer 2021. Schools play a vital role to ensure eligible Washington students receive these benefits.

P-EBT Communication Toolkit

Spreading the Word to Families You Serve

Public, Private, Tribal, and Charter Schools, also known as Local Education Agencies (LEAs) participate by uploading student and school information. Information provided by LEAs will be used to identify eligible students and calculate benefits. 

Getting Started

Sharing communications about the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) is essential to getting families benefits. One of the best ways that families can get information is through their local school and school district. 

You can use as many (or few) of these resources as you would like to get the word out to parents about these new benefits that will help feed children in our state. We have sample communication plans to help you promote P-EBT. All materials are editable and districts may make changes as needed.

There are several district partners to connect with. You may want to connect with:

  • Communication coordinators to help develop a plan to share information to families.
  • McKinney-Vento and foster care liaisons to help identify students who may need cards sent to the district.
  • Equity coordinators to see if there’s additional requirements or considerations to ensure equity in your district.  
  • Language Access liaisons to see if additional translations are needed to reach those you serve.

 

P-EBT Summer Extension

Use the Summer P-EBT Letter to Families template to get the word out. You can use this template and mail the letter, send it using email, use it as a robocall script, or in any way that is helpful for the families your district serves. Feel free to add your district logo and contact information. 

English | Arabic | Chinese (simplified) | Khmer | Korean | Marshallese | Punjabi | Russian | Somali | Spanish | Ukrainian | Vietnamese 

P-EBT 2.0 (SY20–21)

There are 3 letter options in the P-EBT Letters to Families template.

  • Not All Schools in District Eligible for P-EBT
  • All Schools in District Eligible for P-EBT
  • All Students in District Eligible for P-EBT (for CEP and Provision 2 breakfast and lunch schools

Edit the appropriate letter to include your school district information. Feel free to add your district logo and contact information. You can print and mail the letter, send it using email, or use it in any way that is helpful for the families your district serves.

English | Chinese (simplified) | Khmer | Korean | Marshallese | Punjabi | Russian | Somali | Spanish | Ukrainian | Vietnamese 

 

These half-page flyers contain important information to get the word out about the program. You can also post the flyer on your website! Think about including physical copies in your meal bags/boxes. 

P-EBT Summer Extension

Use the Summer P-EBT Letter to Families template to get the word out. You can use this template and mail the letter, send it using email, use it as a robocall script, or in any way that is helpful for the families your district serves. Feel free to add your district logo and contact information. 

English | ArabicChinese (simplified) | Khmer | Korean | Marshallese | Punjabi | Russian | Somali | Spanish | Ukrainian | Vietnamese 

P-EBT 2.0 (SY20–21)

English | Chinese (simplified) | Khmer | Korean | MarshallesePunjabi | Russian | Somali | Spanish | Ukrainian | Vietnamese 

Use the social media graphics and social media post ideas for messaging to use on district social media accounts. Remember to direct families to www.dshs.wa.gov/pebt for more information.

Social media helps you quickly share information at little to no cost. Consistent engagement is key to connecting to families you serve.

P-EBT Summer Extension

English | ArabicChinese (simplified) | Khmer | Korean | Marshallese | Punjabi | Russian | Somali | Spanish | Ukrainian | Vietnamese 

P-EBT 2.0 (SY20–21)

English | Chinese (simplified) | Khmer | Korean | Marshallese | Punjabi | Russian | Somali | Spanish | Ukrainian | Vietnamese 

Graphics

Using graphics in social media posts helps you quickly share information and boosts engagement. We have created some graphics for you to use when sharing information about P-EBT. 

  1. P-EBT is Back:
    English | Chinese (simplified) | Khmer | Korean | Marshallese | Punjabi | Russian | Somali | Spanish | Ukrainian | Vietnamese 
  2. Who is Eligible for P-EBT?:
    English | Chinese (simplified) | Khmer | Korean | Marshallese | Punjabi | Russian | Somali | Spanish | Ukrainian | Vietnamese
  3. Have You Heard About P-EBT?:
    English | Chinese (simplified) | Khmer | Korean | Marshallese | Punjabi | Russian | Somali | Spanish | Ukrainian | Vietnamese

Can I Edit These Graphics?

Yes, P-EBT Graphics are editable! You may choose to add your school colors, contact information, links, district logos, or other information. Follow the steps below to create your own version of the graphics!

Here are the steps you must complete: 

  1. Click the appropriate link below and go to Canva, you must create an account if you don't already have one (it's free). 
  2. IMPORTANT: Before you start editing, you must make a copy of the items to avoid multiple edits to the same image.
    •  Go to the upper left hand corner and select "File".
    • Select "Make a Copy". 
  3. A new page will populate and you can start editing! 

Local Education Agencies (LEAs), and other entities, that receive federal reimbursement for meals must take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to school meals for eligible students from households comprised of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) individuals. So, it’s important to keep your audience in mind.

Tip: Work with your district’s equity or language access contact to address the language needs of your students. You can provide an already translated tagline at the bottom of your documents for families that may need interpretation services. Your district may already have something available.

We recommend to have a separate document to go out with materials that informs families of how to get information in a language other than English. Use the Important Information to Translate Notice Reference Sheet for an example notice already translated into multiple languages.

Community partners can help get the word out about this program and may have ways to connect with families in other ways. Share P-EBT information with them and see if there’s more ways to promote the program.

Refer to the FAQ: Below you will find some Frequently Asked Questions. DSHS is finalizing their FAQ document for families. Keep an eye out at www.dshs.wa.gov/pebt. You can also direct families to the P-EBT Contact Center at 1-833-518-0282.

Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

The Pandemic EBT, or P-EBT, program provides food benefits to eligible students to replace the cost of meals that students would have received if not for the loss of in-person instruction or school closures during School Year 2020-21. Please review the eligibility questions below for P-EBT eligibility information. 

 

The school year 2019-20 P-EBT program originally provided food benefits to eligible school aged children for the months of March, April, May and June 2020. Households applied for these benefits and if determined eligible, they received a standard benefit amount issued by lump sum on a (Quest) EBT card.

Washington State has received federal approval to issue P-EBT benefits for children in school for school year 2020-21 from September 2020 to June 2021. We automated the eligibility process to get more households the assistance they need during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This means households do not have to apply for the 2020-21 P-EBT program.

 

To give P-EBT benefits to children in child care from October 2020 to September 2021, states must develop and submit a separate P-EBT plan for federal approval. The Department of Social and Health Services is currently developing the plan to provide benefits to children in child care.

Families can periodically check www.dshs.wa.gov/pebt for updated information.

 

No. Benefits are provided to the child and immigration is not required to apply for this program.

Yes. P-EBT benefits are additional food benefits. Children may continue to receive grab-and-go meals at school or community sites or emergency food at COVID-19 emergency feeding sites offered at community locations, even if they are receiving P-EBT benefits. 

P-EBT Eligibility

 

Children who normally have access to the National School Lunch Program, or NSLP, and School Breakfast Program, or SBP, and are registered/enrolled at a school in Washington state that:

  • Has been closed or has reduced attendance for 5 or more consecutive days as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency during the 2020-2021 school year, and
  • Determined the child is eligible for free or reduced-priced school meals.

 

All children attending a Community Eligibility or Provision 2 school may be eligible for P-EBT if the school the child attends has reduced in-person learning due to COVID-19.

 

Most children active on food assistance are automatically certified for free school meals, but they don’t automatically qualify for P-EBT benefits. P-EBT eligibility will depend on the school the child attends and their learning model. See question 22 for more information

 

Some families get a $0 food benefit amount and keep their case open for access to other resources. Families that receive $0 in food assistance are not automatically certified for free school meals and must apply for free or reduced-price meals by contacting their child’s school

 

No. P-EBT is available only to children enrolled in and receiving education services in a school, and would normally receive free or reduced-price school meals through the NSLP or SBP if the school wasn’t closed or had reduced attendance.  

 

Eligible children will receive a notice and a P-EBT card with their name on it. We anticipate the notice to be sent to eligible children beginning late March. The P-EBT card will be mailed shortly after. Families should keep their cards as more benefits may be added later if their school continues to be closed or have reduced hours. 

 

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture has recommended states stagger issuances to avoid local grocery store supply and demand issues.

Getting P-EBT Benefits

 

Eligible families do not need to apply to get P-EBT benefits for this school year. Each eligible child will receive a P-EBT card mailed directly to eligible families without having to apply online. Refer to question 6 for more information on eligible families.   

 

P-EBT cards will be mailed to the address on file with the school. Contact your school to ensure they have your current mailing address.

Families submitting school meal applications with a current address should also update the address with the school.  School meal systems and student information systems may not be the same.  

 

Yes. If a child is determined eligible, we will issue P-EBT benefits back to the beginning of the 2020-21 school year or the month the school became eligible and through January 2021. Benefits for these months will be issued in March 2021; however, families may not receive their card until the end of April. The amounts may vary for each child based on their respective school learning models. Benefits for February through the end of the school year will be issued every other month.

 

Follow the instructions that come with your P-EBT card and create your secure Personal Identification Number or PIN.  Keep your card! If your school stays in a remote learning environment, has reduced attendance days or is closed due to COVID-19, we may add more benefits to your card.  

Yes. Additional benefits will be administered later in the year. Cards should be kept in a safe place.

 

No. The P-EBT is a unique program and these benefits will be kept separately from your other benefits available on your EBT card.  

 

If you have not received your card by May 2021, we recommend to check with your child’s school to ensure they have your current mailing address. It is possible that a P-EBT card was mailed to an old address. Or, if your address is not the problem, you can call the P-EBT Contact Center at 833-518-0282.

If your family is facing homelessness and your child is eligible for P-EBT, you can request your P-EBT card be sent to a different address that you can access (i.e. your child’s school). Call your school to make necessary arrangements for pick-up of the P-EBT card.  

We encourage households determined eligible for P-EBT to use the benefits for your family and to help boost the local economy. Benefits are not transferrable and cannot be gifted or donated. If you still wish to decline the benefits, you may destroy the card or return the card to the address on the back of the card. Benefits will be automatically removed after 274 days of non-use.   

Additional Information

All P-EBT eligibility questions may be directed to the P-EBT Contact Center at 833-518-0282.  

 

If you need more food assistance or cash assistance, you can call the Department of Social and Health Services to apply for benefits at 877-501-2233 or visit www.washingtonconnection.org. If you need emergency food assistance, call 2-1-1. 

 
  • The OSPI Organizations Providing Meals Map can help families find locations serving meals to children. Participating in these meal services does not prevent eligible children from getting P-EBT benefits.
  • Contact your local school district to learn about free meal site locations in your area. These meal programs are available to all children 18 and under, regardless of what school they attend.
  • You can go to washingtonconnection.org to see if you qualify to get Basic Food benefits.    
  • If you have any younger children, you may also qualify for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, which provides food assistance to children up to the age of 5 and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers: https://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/WIC.


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