Back to top

Pandemic EBT or P-EBT for Illinois Families

Haga clic aquí para leerlo en español.

If you have questions about P-EBT eligibility, P-EBT card status, benefit amounts, etc., you will need to contact the Illinois Department of Human Services directly with your questions. They have two ways to get in touch: a toll-free hotline 1-833-621-0737 or a P-EBT General Inquiry Form

What is Pandemic EBT?

  • Pandemic EBT, or P-EBT, provides funds to support family food purchases for students who would have received free or reduced school meals but did not receive meals during the 2020-2021 school year due to COVID-19.

Who qualifies? Do I need to apply to receive P-EBT?

  • Families do not need to apply for P-EBT benefits. Illinois Department of Human Services will send each eligible child a card in the mail during March 2021. Benefits will be loaded on the card each month for each eligible day of P-EBT. Please note that this is different than P-EBT benefits from 2019-2020 school year, where application was required.
  • Students are eligible for P-EBT benefits if:
    • They are enrolled in an eligible Illinois school that participates in the National School Lunch Program.
    • They are enrolled to receive free or reduced school meals during the 2020-2021 school year or attend a Community Eligibility Provision school. CEP schools are those that offer breakfast and lunch free to all enrolled students.
    • Students will receive P-EBT benefits for school days where they were enrolled for free or reduced school meals but did not receive them at school due to COVID-19 restrictions.

What does the card look like? How will my family get the card?

  • Cards are shipped automatically to eligible students. You will receive the card in the mail in a plain envelope. The card is white and includes the child’s name. A separate card will be shipped for each eligible child.
  • Make sure your address is correct with the school district your student attends.

When will my family receive P-EBT?

  • Benefits will be loaded each month on days 11 through 22, depending on the first letter of the student’s last name. Please see the chart located on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) P-EBT page.
  • In March 2021, benefits will cover distribution from August through December 2020. In April 2021, benefits will cover January through March 2021. Starting in May 2021, benefits will load monthly for the rest of the school year.

How do we use P-EBT? What if we do not need or want to use P-EBT funds?

  • P-EBT can be used to purchase items that are eligible for SNAP benefits. This includes any food or food product for human consumption.
  • For a full list of what can and cannot be purchased using benefits, please visit the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance - SNAP page from DHS.
  • If you do not want to use the P-EBT funds, you do not have to do so. There are several options for you to consider.
    • Benefits are available for one year. If you do not use them, they will be removed from the card after one year.
    • You can request that removal of benefits from your account by calling the Illinois Department of Human Services at 1-833-621-0737 or filling out their General Inquiry Request form. Once benefits are removed, they can not be reissued.

Who should I contact with questions?

For more information: