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The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is committed to ensuring families have the resources to provide nutritious food for their children during the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2020, Wisconsin applied for and was awarded federal funding to provide temporary food benefits to families with children who normally receive free or reduced price school meals through the National School Lunch Program. These benefits are also called Pandemic EBT or P-EBT.

Over the last several months, DHS has collaborated with the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and Department of Children and Families to issue these benefits for most children without families needing to take any action. DHS was able to automatically issue benefits if the information DHS had on file matched the free and reduced price school meal data schools reported to DPI.

DHS has now completed this automatic issuance process, and parents and guardians are encouraged to apply for the benefits if they have not received them to date and believe their child or children are eligible. The deadline for applying has been extended to July 31, 2020, to ensure families have an opportunity to receive the benefits they are eligible for.

Tips on Applying

To successfully apply, parents and guardians need to ensure:

  • Their child’s or children’s school participates in the National School Lunch Program. Children may be receiving free or reduced price meals through an independent program offered by their school. In this case, the children would not be eligible for Pandemic EBT benefits.
  • The name and date of birth they provide on the application for each child exactly matches the name and date of birth their school reported to DPI.

Parents and guardians are encouraged to contact their child’s or children’s school prior to applying to confirm the school participates in the National School Lunch Program and to check what information the school provided to DPI.

If parents and guardians confirmed both those things and were not able to successfully apply, they should email DHS and include the following information in the email:

  • Their full name
  • Their case number if they have one
  • Their phone number
  • Each child’s full name and date of birth
  • The school each child goes to and the city where the school is located
  • Details about the issue they are experiencing

A dedicated team is reviewing and responding to each email. They are working as diligently as possible, but it may take some time to research each individual issue. DHS appreciates families’ patience as we work to ensure they receive the benefits they need.

Questions

Due to the temporary nature of these benefits, DHS has been unable to leverage existing supports to provide information and answer questions. Parents and guardians should always refer to the DHS website for the most current information about the benefits, including FAQs and contact information. Contact information is also available in a print-friendly Pandemic EBT Information Sheet, P-02689.


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