Pandemic EBT (P-EBT)


Pandemic EBT for School Year 2020-21 is here!

Due to COVID-19, children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals will get extra food benefits. These food benefits are called P-EBT. P-EBT benefits help Washington families buy food when schools are closed or have reduced in-person attendance.

P-EBT eligibility letters for September 2020 to January 2021 were mailed out on March 23, 2021.  Our vendor began mailing P-EBT cards separately and in batches, so it may take several weeks to issue all. 

For your convenience, most of the answers to your questions are provided in the above FAQ.


Updates and additional questions not found on the FAQ:

Why is my child’s name on this letter?

P-EBT eligibility letters are addressed to each eligible student. Students across the state have different living situations and may not always live with a parent. Letters and P-EBT cards are listed under the student’s name for this reason. We are using the student’s verified address of residence listed with the school to send these letters and P-EBT cards. This is in accordance with our state plan and Washington Administrative Code.


Why aren’t the P-EBT benefits going to be loaded to my Quest EBT card?

Many students who receive free or reduced-price meals are not on food assistance programs and do not have a Quest EBT card. To get P-EBT benefits to the most children across the state, we have placed them on a new P-EBT card.


I received the letter. Where’s the P-EBT card?

Our EBT vendor started mailing the P-EBT cards March 23, 2021. Cards are being mailed out in batches every day to eligible students, and it is expected to take several weeks for all cards to be mailed out. Once mailed out, cards can take seven to 10 days to arrive. These P-EBT cards will contain the one-time, retroactive benefit from the months of September 2020 to January 2021. Keep your cards!


Am I going to keep getting P-EBT benefits?

Students should expect to receive notices in late April 2021 about their one-time, retroactive payment for February and March 2021. Any additional rounds of benefits will also be added to these cards, so please don’t get rid of them when you have used the benefits from September 2020 - January 2021.


Do I need to claim P-EBT benefits on my taxes?

No. P-EBT benefits are not taxable under the Federal Income Tax rules.


Do I need to pay back these benefits?

No. Students who receive P-EBT benefits don’t need to repay them.


Are P-EBT benefits subject to public charge rules?

No. P-EBT benefits are not subject to Public Charge rules.


Additional Information

Who is eligible?

Children are eligible for P-EBT benefits if:

  • Their school is closed or has reduced in-person attendance hours.
  • They are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.

How do families apply?

Families don’t have to apply for the P-EBT Program! DSHS is working with schools to automatically determine eligibility for students enrolled in a school that offers free or reduced-price school meals. Families or students should continue to ensure their current mailing address is on file with the child’s school and are encouraged to fill out a school meal application if their child doesn’t get free or reduced-price meals already.


What does the P-EBT card look like?

Watch the mail for a card that looks like this!

P-EBT card image

The P-EBT card is separate from and doesn’t replace a food or cash (Quest) EBT card.

How are P-EBT benefits used?

P-EBT benefits can be used like a debit card to buy food in most grocery stores and farmers markets, or to buy food online at Amazon or Walmart. Families can also use their P-EBT to get double the amount of food at participating farmer’s markets! Learn more at DOH SNAP Market Match

Should I keep my P-EBT card after funds are used?

Yes! Additional benefits may be issued to the card for as long as the COVID-19 public health emergency continues. 

Families are encouraged to participate in Grab-n-Go school meals at school even if they have P-EBT benefits. This meal finder tool can help families find schools and other locations serving meals to children. Participating in these meal services does not prevent eligible children from getting P-EBT benefits.

Visit this page often for any updates.



What can SNAP Buy

- News release about P-EBT

- Radio Spots (coming soon)

- Schools and organizations providing meals to children during COVID-19