Meal Money For Kids

For families in need while schools have been out, due to the pandemic, there’s a little extra help to feed their kids with the Pandemic-EBT.

What is Pandemic-EBT

The Pandemic EBT Emergency School Meals Program, or P-EBT, is a one-time food benefit for all K-12 students who received free or reduced school price meals during the 2019/2020 school year. 

Introduced in early June 2020 by a joint partnership of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the Pandemic-EBT helps families impacted by COVID-19 school closures by providing up to $399 in food purchases per student per household. 

 Eligible students who have not yet received this one-time benefit must apply by August 31st, or before the start of the 2020–21 school year, whichever is later, to receive the payment.

Who is Eligible and Things to Know

  1. If your child already was approved for free/reduced meals, or attended a school which provided free meals for all students, when their school closed due to COVID-19 AND you had an EBT card:

Nothing needs to be done.  The Pandemic-EBT benefit should have been automatically applied to your EBT card by July 7th.  “If you did not receive this benefit, or were informed you were not eligible, you are encouraged to apply because there was a glitch in the system,” says Dru Gibson of the Deer Park School District Free/Reduced Price Meals program.  It is imperative the spelling of the child’s name and date of birth on the application match perfectly to school records.  Otherwise, DSHS data and school records will not match and the application will be declined.  If you did not receive the benefit, and believe you should look at our section on “How do I apply or get help for Pandemic-EBT.” 

  1. If your child already was approved for free/reduced meals when the school closed due to COVID-19 and you do NOT have an EBT card:

You will need to apply for the Pandemic-EBT by contacting DSHS. More about this in our section on “How do I apply or get help for Pandemic-EBT.”

  1. If your child was approved for Free/Reduced Price Meals AFTER the schools closed for COVID-19 but BEFORE the end of the school year on June 30th:

You can still apply for the Pandemic-EBT, although the amount may be less than the maximum $399.  Generally, the payment amount is $5.70/day for each day of eligibility.  Eligibility is determined by the school application date for Free/Reduced Price Meals and the dates of closure due to COVID.  

You will need to apply to DSHS; to find out more information, go to our section in this article, “How do I apply or get help for Pandemic-EBT”. 

How To Apply 

  •  Call DSHS at 877-501-2233 Monday through Friday from 8am-5pm. 
    • They have immediate access to your school’s Free/Reduced Price Meals eligibility list and can approve your application during the call.


  • Applications can be submitted at  
    • The website will first require you to login with a username and password.  If you already have a SAW account, you can use that login information.  If you don’t, sign up for one when arriving at the site.  Once in the site, you will need to complete the online process. 

Will Pandemic-EBT Affect other Benefits

The Pandemic-EBT payment does not affect any other Child Nutrition Program in which your child may be enrolled.  Additionally, immigration status is not asked for either the child or guardian.  The funds distributed on your card can be used for up to one year.

Additional Help for Nutritious Breakfasts and/or Lunches this Summer 

Many schools are providing for all children aged 1 – 18, regardless of eligibility, to enjoy a nutritious breakfast and/or lunch at different locations around the area.  For more information on this, see our article Summer Food Lunch Programs at


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