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Families with a child or children who usually get free or reduced-price school meals through the National School Lunch Program will receive temporary food benefits in place of the school meals that aren’t given because of COVID-19 pandemic-related school closures. These benefits are called Pandemic EBT or P-EBT. 

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) reports that the benefit amount for March and April together is $176.70 for each child who gets free or reduced-price school meals. The benefit amount for May and June together is $148.20 for each child who gets free or reduced-price school meals. These benefits will be put on a QUEST card or P-EBT card. These cards can be used as a debit card to buy food.

The benefits will be given out at different times based on family information the DHS currently has on file. Families with more than children getting free to reduced-price school meals may receive benefits at different times. In some cases, families may have to apply for benefits. The child’s school will let families know how to use the benefit. 

The P-EBT benefit for March and April was delivered April 27 to families enrolled in FoodShare who get free or reduced-price school meals, and on May 10, families enrolled in other public benefit programs (such as BadgerCare Plus or W2) who get free or reduced-price school meals. The May/June P-EBT benefit is planned to be delivered at the end of May for eligible families.

The DHS reminds families that these benefits must be used within one year of being put on the QUEST or P-EBT card. Card balances may be checked at any time by going to the ebtEDGE website or using the ebtEDGE mobile app.

Families who are enrolled in FoodShare may get additional FoodShare benefits for May to help during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, families won’t get the P-EBT benefit if they are already receiving the maximum monthly FoodShare benefit for the number of people in the household.

The May benefits will be put on the households’ QUEST card on May 24. After that date, a letter detailing the changes will be mailed.

To learn more about Wisconsin emergency food benefits related to COVID-19, visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/foodshare/index.htm

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.