Pandemic-EBT Message for Families

The following message may be used or modified to share with families in your school communities:

Pandemic-EBT Benefits for Families

Students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals may be eligible for Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) to purchase food for days they are not in the school building. To be considered, households must submit an application for free or reduced-price meals for the 2020-21 school year or be approved for Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Families who received P-EBT benefits last summer are not automatically eligible; eligibility is based on the current school year. Benefits may be retroactive to September 2020, depending on when eligibility for free or reduced-price meals is determined. To ensure you qualify for the most benefits, please submit your application as soon as possible.

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Updates

What is P-EBT?

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) is a federal temporary emergency nutrition benefit that is loaded on electronic cards for families to purchase food. P-EBT was first implemented for the end of the 2019-20 school year. Congress made changes to the program for the 2020-21 school year, including the addition of a school learning model component to determine eligibility. P-EBT is jointly implemented by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS).

School Eligibility

Schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program (or would have if not for the COVID-19 health emergency) become eligible after they are closed or operating with reduced hours or attendance for at least five consecutive days in the current school year. This includes distance learning or hybrid school learning models. Schools with an in-person learning model that have students who elected distance learning are also eligible.

Student Eligibility

Students who attend eligible schools and qualify for free or reduced-price (FRP) meals (e.g., children who are directly certified, certified by application or enrolled in a Community Eligibility Provision school) will receive P-EBT benefits based on a calculation that includes the number of distance learning and hybrid days each month. This calculation will be shared once it is approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

IMPORTANT: Households that qualify for FRP meals but have not yet submitted an Application for Educational Benefits for the 2020-21 school year should do so immediately to qualify for the most benefits. In addition, households must have a current mailing address on file with the school in order to receive the P-EBT card in the mail. View a sample P-EBT message for families.

The months in which a student is eligible for P-EBT benefits depends on when the Application for Educational Benefits was submitted to the school. Applications received by February 28, 2021 will be eligible for retroactive benefits to September 2020. The table below shows the months eligible for P-EBT benefits based on the submission date of the Application for Educational Benefits.

Submission Date of Application for Educational Benefits

Months eligible for P-EBT benefits*

By February 28, 2021

September 2020 through June 2021

March 1 – June 11, 2021

March 2021 through June 2021

*Eligibility dates subject to change pending USDA approval

Data Collection Process

MDE will collect data from schools to determine P-EBT eligibility, and DHS will issue P-EBT benefits directly to individuals. Data will be collected through two sources:

Learning Model Portal

School learning model data is a key component in the calculation of P-EBT benefits. Before P-EBT benefits are issued, organizations must confirm the accuracy of their learning model data. This includes past learning model data for retroactive benefits. The deadline for confirming learning model data to ensure timely issuance of benefits is February 15, 2021. Confirmation after this date will delay benefits to families.

Site verification coordinators in public schools (MARSS reporting organizations) may review current and past learning model data using the Safe Learning Model Look-Up. If the information needs to be changed, email Once the information is accurate, provide confirmation via the Learning Model Confirmation Survey.

Note: Nonpublic schools will need to provide MDE information on their past and current learning models, including dates in which there was a change. Instructions will be shared once they become available.

P-EBT Data Portal

Public and nonpublic schools will submit student eligibility data through the P-EBT data portal. Only data for students eligible for FRP meals need to be submitted. The list below shows anticipated data required for the P-EBT data portal:

  • School organization ID
  • State student ID (training will be provided for nonpublic schools to assign these numbers)
  • Student name
  • Student birthdate
  • Student gender
  • Student grade level
  • Student home primary language
  • Student homeless status
  • Student free or reduced-price meal status
  • Application date for free or reduced-price meals
  • Student enrollment (entry date and exit date)
  • Head of household name, gender, address, phone number and email address
  • P-EBT card distribution preference (i.e., mailed to home or school)
  • Application date for free or reduced-price meals
  • Whether student chose full-time distance learning (begin and end dates)


Two live webinars will be held on Wednesday, February 3, 2021, to cover data entry procedures. This training is intended for public and nonpublic school staff who will be responsible for compiling and submitting data to MDE. The webinars will be recorded for those who are unable to attend.

Email with questions.


Contact: Mr. Guetter