The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program is now available for the 2021-22 school year and summer 2022. The eligibility criteria is different than previously administered P-EBT benefits, so families should read the new program information thoroughly.
Student eligibility for 2021-22 P-EBT benefits is based on students’ free or reduced-price meal eligibility and COVID-related absences, virtual attendance, and school closures. Families must have had an approved National School Lunch Program (NSLP) household application, be eligible through direct certification, or have attended a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) or Provision 2 school during the 2021-22 school year.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) provides local education agencies (LEAs) with a sample letter to families to explain in more detail the benefits and eligibility criteria for this round of P-EBT. LEAs are currently in the process of submitting school absence data to DESE, reflecting COVID-related absences on-file from the 2021-22 school year. DESE will review the data and share benefit amounts with the Department of Social Services (DSS). DSS will load the funds onto new or existing P-EBT cards.
P-EBT is a food assistance benefit for students who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals under the NSLP. Throughout the 2021-22 school year, COVID-19 continued to cause schools to operate with reduced attendance. The number of consecutive school days missed due to a COVID-related absence will be linked to a predetermined benefit level (see below).
Tier / Days Absent
Benefit Day Used
Tier 1: 1-5 days
Tier 2: 6-15 days
Tier 3: 16+ or more days
The final pages of DESE’s sample letter to families includes answers to frequently asked questions as well as which entity should be contacted if a family has questions.