Pandemic-EBT

Pandemic Electronic Benefits (P-EBT) provides nutritional resources to families who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to pandemic-related school closures.

About P-EBT

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW), in collaboration with the Idaho State Department of Education (SDE), are working to provide benefits to eligible households that meet the criteria for receiving benefits to help cover the cost of lunches that would have otherwise been provided in school. This benefit is called Pandemic Electronic Benefit (P-EBT) and is a one-time payment of $302.10 per child. 

The criteria used to determine eligibility for P-EBT is based on whether a child was eligible and enrolled in the School Meal Program (free or reduced school lunch) through the Idaho school system on March 23, 2020, when schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The intent of this one-time payment is to replace the value of free/reduced lunches children would have received during the time Idaho schools were closed.

P-EBT Payments are being processed in stages the month of September
If your family is currently receiving SNAP benefits, payments will be made to your existing benefit card. Please call us at 1-877-456-1233 if you do not receive your benefit by September 10th.

All other families will receive a notice in the mail, followed by a benefit card for your child(ren). If you do not receive a notice by September 20th, call us at 1-877-456-1233
An application is not required to receive P-EBT
Eligible households were identified by the Idaho Department of Education and local school districts based on a student’s eligibility for free or reduced lunch, or attendance in a school operating a community eligibility program. Households will receive a notice of eligibility in the mail from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. 

Read the Frequently Asked Questions below for more information. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is P-EBT?

Pandemic Electronic Benefits (P-EBT) provides nutritional resources to families who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to pandemic-related school closures. Eligible families will receive a one-time payment of $302.10 per child on a new or existing EBT card to help replace the food they would have received if they’d been attending school. Eligible families may use these benefits similar to how Food Stamps (FS)/Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) are used.

What criteria was used to determine which child received this payment?

Eligible households were identified by the Idaho Department of Education and local school districts based on a student’s eligibility for free or reduced lunch, or attendance in a school operating a community eligibility program.

The criteria used to determine eligibility for this is based on whether a child was eligible and enrolled in the School Meal Program (free or reduced school lunch) through the Idaho school system on March 23, 2020, when schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

How do you use this benefit?

If your family does not currently receive SNAP, you will receive an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card in the mail. You can use this card to purchase certain foods. 

 If your family currently receives SNAP, the P-EBT benefit will be loaded onto your SNAP card; you will not receive a new EBT card with this one-time payment.

What groceries can I purchase with this benefit?

You can use your P-EBT benefits at food grocers that accept SNAP benefits (also known as Food Stamps), like grocery stores and farmers markets, to buy certain foods such as: 

  • Breads and cereals 
  • Fruits and vegetables 
  • Meats, fish, and poultry 
  • Dairy products 
  • Seeds and plants that produce food for you and your household to eat 

Food Stamps may not be used to buy items such as: 

  • Beer 
  • Wine 
  • Liquor 
  • Cigarettes or tobacco 
  • Vitamins and medicines 
  • Food that can be eaten in-store 
  • Prepared foods 
  • Non-food items such as: 
    • Pet foods 
    • Soaps 
    • Paper products 
    • Household supplies
Will I get a card for each child?

We have made every effort to consolidate all P-EBT payments for eligible children together. However, you may receive multiple EBT cards, and you may use each card until the amounts have all been spent

How do I use my EBT card when I get it in the mail?

Follow the instructions that come with your EBT card. You must set a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to make purchases with the card before you use it to buy food.  

To set a PIN, call Fidelity Information Services (FIS) customer service, 24/7, at 1-888-432-4328 and follow the prompts. You will use this PIN when you when you go shopping – like a debit card.

How long do I have to use the benefit? Does it expire?

Your P-EBT benefits will be available for one year to use; after which time they will expire.

Do I have to pay back the benefit at a later date?

No, you do not have to pay back any portion of the P-EBT benefit. The intent of this one-time payment is to replace the value of free/reduced lunches children would have received during the time Idaho schools were closed due to pandemic-related closures.

I think my child is eligible for but did not get the one-time P-EBT benefit. How do I apply?

The one-time P-EBT benefits are automatically paid to children who were on a list provided by the Idaho State Department of Education, and will be sent to the last known address provided by the child’s school. Payments are being issued throughout the month of September. Eligible families should expect to receive a notice explaining these benefits by September 20th.

If you believe your child was eligible and you do not receive a notice in the mail, or there are other children in your home who should have qualified for this benefit that were not included, call us at 1-877-456-1233.

I heard my child was eligible for the one-time P-EBT benefit, but the child’s other parent got the card.

The guardian on record with the school as of March 23, 2020 received the benefit.

When will the money be available for current SNAP families?

If your family currently receives SNAP, the P-EBT benefit will be loaded onto your SNAP card within seven days of receiving your eligibility letter.  

If your family does not currently receive SNAP, you will receive an EBT card in the mail within 7-10 days of receiving your eligibility letter.

How long will it take to get the EBT card for non-SNAP families?

The card will be mailed within 7-10 days from the date of your notice. Please wait until that time before contacting anyone about a lost or misplaced card. Funds will be processed to the card by September 20th.

I do not receive other state benefits. Do I need to keep the EBT card after I use the benefits?

P-EBT benefits were authorized through federal legislation. At this time, additional P-EBT benefits have not been authorized; however, should a future benefit be made available, benefits will go on this same card. Please keep your card in a safe place. We will notify you if your child(ren) is eligible for any future P-EBT benefits.

I do not receive other state benefits. May I apply for SNAP or other benefits?

If you would like to apply for benefits such as SNAP, Child Care Assistance, or Medicaid, please visit healthandwelfare.idaho.gov or call 1-877-456-1233, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM–6:00 PM (MT).

Will this impact my current SNAP Benefits?

No, this one-time payment is in addition to your regular monthly SNAP benefit.

If I receive this benefit, does that mean I can no longer pick up lunch boxes or meal supplements provided by my school or community?

No. P-EBT benefits supplement grab-and-go student meal sites. They do not replace them. You can find a meal site in your community through USDA’s Meals 4 Kids Site Finder.

Can I deny this benefit? What happens if I don’t spend the money?

If you choose not to accept the one-time benefit, simply destroy the card. No other action is needed.

We recently moved to Idaho, and my child was receiving reduced cost/free lunch at school in our previous state. Will we be eligible for this benefit?

No, your child had to attend an Idaho school and been eligible on March 23 to get the benefit. You can contact your previous school to see if you qualify for this program under that state.

What if my address changed between when my child(ren) was/were in school and now?

If you are currently receiving benefits from DHW, notices regarding this benefit will be mailed to the address that DHW has on file.  

If you are not currently on SNAP benefits, your EBT card and notice will be mailed to the address you had on file with the school as of March 23, 2020. 

If this is no longer your address, contact DHW to report your new address. Make sure to include a note that you are reporting an address change due to being eligible for P-EBT.

I did not give my school a permanent address last year. Can I still get a P-EBT benefit for my child(ren)?

Yes, if your child was attending school and eligible as of March 23, 2020, you can call DHW to find out how to get your EBT card. Make sure you inform DHW if your child was in school on March 23 but did not have a permanent address on file. This allows us to route your call to the correct place.

I am an immigrant parent. Will this affect my public charge?

No, it will not. Using P-EBT benefits does not impact you or your child’s immigration status. The public charge rule does not apply to P-EBT benefits. P-EBT benefits are NOT SNAP benefits and are not considered in a public charge test.

Questions about your EBT card
Fidelity Information Services (FIS)
Set your Personal Identification Number (PIN) for your EBT card, report missing/lost/stolen card, inquire about balance.
24/7 availability.
Questions about SNAP benefits and P-EBT
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW)
Report change of address, learn how to use the EBT card, inquire and apply for Self-Reliance benefits.
M-F, 8AM - 6PM