While school was dismissed during spring 2020, many families struggled to keep their children fed. School breakfast and lunch programs had been giving their children reliable meals five days a week, but with school canceled, providing regular meals became more difficult. That’s why Congress approved the Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) food program, “a federal program intended to make up the cost of free or reduced school meals that families would have received while schools closed from March through May of 2020.”

The P-EBT benefits will be widespread, with the Salt Lake Tribune reporting that “$18 million in P-EBT benefits will go to Utah families this week, and another $50 million could go out in September if eligible families apply. [The Utah Department of Workforce Services] estimates that 75,000 households may have eligible children.” Keep reading to learn what the benefits include, who is eligible, how to apply, and other important information.

What Do the Benefits Include, and Who Is Eligible?

Qualifying families will receive $308 in benefits per child through the P-EBT benefits. Families who were on SNAP on or before March 16 (totaling 60,000 students) should be automatically receiving the benefits the week of August 3.

Additionally, any child who was (a) eligible for free or reduced-price meals or (b) attending a school designated as having a majority of children eligible for these meals on March 16, 2020 (totaling 77,000 households), may also be eligible and will need to apply for the benefits. These non-SNAP households who apply should receive the benefits before September 30, 2020.

How Do I Apply?

While families who were receiving SNAP benefits on March 16 do not need to apply, families who were not on SNAP but were eligible for free or reduced-price meals will need to apply by August 31. Here are the steps to follow if you need to apply:

  1. Visit jobs.utah.gov/covid19/pebt/index.html and click “APPLY NOW.” You will need to answer seven questions.
  2. Stand by for approval. You will receive notice of the decision by September 30, 2020.
  3. Once you have been approved, use your P-EBT card to purchase unprepared foods. You cannot use the card to purchase prepared food (like ready-to-eat meals), non-food items, alcohol, cigarettes, or tobacco.

What Else Should I Know?

  • P-EBT benefits do not replace current meal programs. The program does not affect eligibility for summer meal programs or any future free or reduced-price meal.
  • The use of P-EBT benefits does not affect your or your child(ren)’s immigration status, and the public charge test will not consider P-EBT benefits.
  • You may use the P-EBT card anywhere that accepts SNAP EBT cards. According to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, “Utah has over 1,400 approved retailers that can accept and process SNAP purchases with an EBT card. These retailers range from supermarkets to convenience stores and farmers markets.”
  • Read more FAQs here.

P-EBT benefits are here to help Utah’s children stay fed. So if your family is eligible for P-EBT benefits, be sure to apply here before August 31!