Program to help eligible families with food costs


HSD families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic may benefit from a new state program that promises to help cover the cost of groceries.

Available to families that receive free or reduced-price school meals (or those eligible to receive free/reduced meals with an approved application), the Pandemic (P-EBT) Emergency School Meals Program will provide households with a one-time benefit of up to $399 per eligible K-12 child.

The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is partnering with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to distribute the funds this summer using Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards.

“I believe food is often our best medicine,” said DSHS Secretary Cheryl Strange in a press release. “Every bit of support we can provide families to help them achieve their full potential is critically important, especially during this time.”

Families currently enrolled in the state’s Basic Food program and whose children already receive free or reduced-price school meals do not need to apply; P-EBT benefits will automatically be deposited onto existing EBT cards in early July.

Those who are not enrolled in the Basic Food program but who are approved for free or reduced-price school meals must apply online at or by calling DSHS at 877.501.2233.

Families that may be eligible for free/reduced meals but are not currently approved must fill out the district’s free or reduced-price school meal application prior to applying for P-EBT benefits.

There are two ways you may complete a free or reduced-priced meal application (located at under "Families" then "Food Service"):

  1. Drop off the completed free and reduced meal application form at the HSD Office. You can also email the form to, or send it via standard mail to the following address:

    Hockinson School District Office, Attention Caroline Chapman
    17912 NE 159th Street
    Brush Prairie, WA 98606
  2. Log into Skyward Family Access and select the “Food Service” tab to complete and submit an online application for your student. If you have more than one student attending Hockinson School District, please select a student from the drop-down menu.  Do not select All Students. You will submit one application per household, but it must start under one student’s name.

Contact Caroline Chapman at 360.448.6480 if you have questions about either of these steps.

Note: P-EBT benefits are not intended to replace the district’s free daily meal pick-up service. Families are encouraged to continue participating in that program.

Still have questions? Take a look at the list of Frequently Asked Questions below, courtesy DSHS and OSPI.

P-EBT: Frequently Asked Questions

What is P-EBT, or Pandemic EBT Emergency School Meals Program?

Because of COVID-19, children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school will get extra food benefits. P-EBT is a new and temporary food benefit to help families buy groceries because schools were closed.

Who can get P-EBT?

Any family with a child in grades k-12 who is eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. P-EBT is available to all students regardless of citizenship or immigration status. The only requirement is a child must be eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.

If my child is eligible, how much money will we get?

The amount depends on how many children in your home get free or reduced-price school meals. The maximum benefit is $399 per child. You will get one P-EBT card for all your children (for example: if you have 3 children, you will get one card with $1,197).

Families with children who became eligible for free and reduced-price meals after their school closed will get less than $399 for each child. It depends on when your family applied for free or reduced-price meals, or for Basic Food. P-EBT Benefits ($5.70 per day) are based on the number of school days that schools were closed:

March - $68.40
April - $125.40
May - $119.70
June - $85.50

Can P-EBT affect my family’s immigration status?

No. Applying for or using P-EBT will not change a parent or child's immigration status. P-EBT is not a public charge. No one will ask about you or your child’s immigration status or citizenship when you apply for P-EBT.

How do my children get P-EBT?

There are two ways to get P-EBT:

  1. Families with Basic Food (food stamps): Between June 28th and July 7th, PEBT benefits will be added to the EBT card you already use.
  2. Families with children who receive free or reduced-price school meals: You must complete a simple application before August 31st or the beginning of the new school year (whichever is later).

How do I apply for P-EBT?

There are two ways to apply:

  1. Online: (on the application, choose ‘Pandemic EBT - Emergency School Meals Program’ box in the food assistance section)
  2. Call: 877.501.2233 (DSHS Customer Service Contact Center – language translation available)

To apply, for each child you need to know:

  • Name of your child’s school or school district
  • Your child’s first and last name as it appears on school enrollment records
  • Child’s date of birth

P-EBT benefits are approved if the information on your child’s school meal application matches the child’s information on the P-EBT application with DSHS.

You can choose where to mail your P-EBT card on your P-EBT application. If your child (children) is approved, your P-EBT card will arrive in the mail 3-5 days after approval. Due to the application workload, it may take up to 30 business-days for your application to be processed.

When is the deadline to apply for P-EBT?

You must apply by August 31st, 2020, or before the start of the 2020-21 school year (whichever is later).

How will I know if I am approved?

You will get a P-EBT card in the mail with information about how to use your PEBT card. The approval process may take longer if you became eligible for free and reduced-price school meals after schools closed.

If your P-EBT application is denied, you will receive a letter in the mail explaining what happened and how to appeal if you think the denial is incorrect.

What if our P-EBT card arrives with the wrong amount of money?

If you think the amount is not correct call DSHS at 877.501.2233.

What can I buy with P-EBT benefits?

Your P-EBT benefits can buy food in most grocery stores and farmer’s markets, or to purchase groceries online at Amazon and Walmart.

 P-EBT cannot be used for:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Non-food items (i.e. household supplies, toiletry items)
  • Pre-cooked hot foods
  • Vitamins and medicines

Do I have to use all my P-EBT benefits when I get my card?

No. You will have your P-EBT benefits for one year after you get your card.

Back to School News       Print