Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) Program

Created on: 
Mar 26 2021


This section reviews the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) Program, which provides food benefits to children affected by school closures or reduced in-person learning due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

WAC 388-439-0005 – What is the pandemic EBT program?

WAC 388-439-0010 - Eligibility of pandemic EBT benefits for the 2020-2021 school year.

WAC 388-439-0015 - General information about pandemic EBT benefits.

Clarifying Information - WAC 388-439-0005

Eligible children:

  • All K-12 students eligible to receive free and reduced meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) are eligible for P-EBT regardless of age, including:
    • Children attending a Head Start or Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) may qualify if the program they attend is administered by a school participating in the NSLP; and
    • Students over the age of 18 enrolled in high school.

Homeschooled children:

  • P-EBT is available only to children enrolled in and receiving education services in a school, and determined eligible to receive free or reduced-price school meals through the NSLP. Homeschooled children don’t qualify for P-EBT.

Available Meal Service:

  • Schools report on-campus meal service provided to the majority of students for the majority of the month (more than 50 percent). All P-EBT eligible students attending the same school get the same benefit amount based on that school’s reported meal service.
  • “Meal service” means days per week both breakfast and lunch is available for consumption on school campus to enrolled students as reported by the school.
    • “Grab and Go” meals or other meals consumed offsite don’t count as normal “meal service.”
Example: Sammie is attending a school that began the majority of students as hybrid learning two days per week in January 2021. Students attended school for the first week and received two days on-site meal service. The following week, school went full remote learning due to a COVID-19 outbreak. For the majority of the month, the school was full remote learning; therefore, all P-EBT eligible students attending this school are eligible for the full benefit level in January 2021. Sammie gets $123 for the month of January 2021.
Example: Tomas is enrolled in elementary school that has two cohorts – half of the students attend school on campus Monday and Tuesday, and the other half attends school on campus Thursday and Friday. Both breakfast and lunch are available to students on campus two days per week. Because the majority of students receive a two-day meal service, all P-EBT eligible students are eligible for $74.
Example: A school is offering hybrid learning to the majority of students for the majority of the month. Students attend the school four hours a day. They are served breakfast, but lunch is provided as “Grab and Go” meal. Since “Grab and Go” meals are consumed offsite, students don’t receive both meals on school campus and are reported by the school as full-remote learning, therefore students are eligible for the full benefit level.

Clarifying Information - WAC 388-439-0010


  • There is no application for P-EBT benefits.
  • P-EBT eligibility is automatically determined for all students eligible for free or reduced-price meals based on available data from schools. The benefit amount is based on the school’s reported meal service.

Operating days:

  • Operating days are based on a statewide average of all schools’ normal operating days, excluding weekends, breaks, and holidays. Schools have an average of 180 operating days from September 2020 to June 2021. The average over 10 months is 18 operating days per month.

Retroactive school reporting:

  • Schools report their school status and meal service availability on a retroactive basis to capture the most accurate meal service. This allows schools to account for changes in meal services throughout the month and school year.
  • All P-EBT eligible students attending the same school get the same amount of P-EBT benefits.

Benefit Levels:

We base the monthly P-EBT benefit levels on two factors:

  • Available meal service to more than 50% of enrolled students; and
  • Number of days in the month with meal service.
Example: Privet Drive Elementary provides free or reduced-priced meals. In October, kindergarten to first grade received one day in-person meal service per week. Second to fifth grade received no meal service as students were full remote learning.
All students at Privet Drive Elementary are considered full remote learning since:
  • More than 50% of students enrolled in the school were full remote learning AND
  • More than 50% of the month was full remote learning.
  • Benefit amounts are based on the school’s reported meal service, number of operating days (18), and the daily rate of $6.82 for breakfast, lunch and snack.

Meal Service Reported


Dollar Amount for the Month

Full remote learning or School Closure

$6.82 x 18 x 100%


One day in-person

$6.82 x 18 x 80%


Two days in-person

$6.82 x 18 x 60%


Three days in-person

$6.82 x 18 x 40%


Four days in-person

$6.82 x 18 x 20%


  • Schools reporting full in-person learning don’t qualify for a P-EBT benefit for that month.
Example: Donna is a first grader who started attending full in-person learning the last week of February 2021, while second to sixth graders were full remote learning the entire month.

First, the school looks at the student enrollment to confirm the majority meal service to all students. At Donna’s school, the majority of students are full remote learning.
Second, the school looks at the operating days in the month and confirms that most of the students at the school were in full remote learning for most of the month.

This means all P-EBT eligible students are determined to be full-remote learning. Donna is eligible for the maximum benefit of $123 for February 2021.

P-EBT Issuance:

P-EBT is a one-time payment for a retroactive period.


P-EBT Months:

March 2021

September 2020 to January 2021

April 2021

February and March 2021

June 2021

April and May 2021

August 2021

June 2021


Clarifying Information - WAC 388-439-0015

Using the P-EBT card:

  • The P-EBT cards work the same as a regular EBT card to purchase food items. Eligible P-EBT students will receive a card with their name on it.
  • Each student (including homeless youth) can use the EBT card or have a responsible household member use the benefits on their behalf.
  • Benefits are redeemable nationwide.

P-EBT card:

  • Cards are mailed to the address on file with the school.
    • P-EBT cards and notices may be sent to the school for pick up.
  • There are no custody requirements for P-EBT, as long as a responsible adult uses the benefit on behalf of the child.
  • EBT cards are to be used on behalf of the eligible child. P-EBT benefits can’t be transferred, trafficked, or exchanged for non-food items as listed in WAC 388-412-0046 (2)(d). This includes donating food items to a food bank or charity.