(Updated) P-EBT: Relief for Households with School-Aged Children

Illinois’ Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program (P-EBT) will provide 316,000 Illinois households with additional funds to replace the meals children can’t access while schools are closed via LINK cards.

Updated 5/26/2020 with new information about how to apply and graphics in Spanish and English

Due to COVID-19, schools across Illinois have been closed. As a result, families with children who got meals at school have been deprived of food.

In response, Illinois’ Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program (P-EBT) is providing 316,000 Illinois households with additional funds to replace the meals children can’t access while schools are closed.

Table of Contents
A Visual Guide to Applying for P-EBT
How much will families receive?
Who is eligible?
How can I apply?

A Visual Guide to Applying for P-EBT

How much will families receive?

  • P-EBT provides an EBT card that can be used at authorized retailers to offset the cost of meals that would have been consumed at school.
  • P-EBT provides the value of school meals at the rate of $5.70 per child per school day.
  • P-EBT will provide benefits for 21 days in May for a total of $119.70 per school-aged child for May. Households that apply and are approved anytime in May will receive benefits retroactive to the beginning of the month.
  • P-EBT will also be available in June.

Who is eligible?

All CPS families qualify for P-EBT Benefits, but must submit an application for P-EBT if they are not enrolled in SNAP!

  • Households with children enrolled in free or reduced-price school meals, or with a child attending a school that provides all meals for free, can apply directly for P-EBT.
  • Households at or below 185% of the federal poverty guideline but who are not receiving SNAP or free or reduced-price school meals should first call their child’s school to enroll in free or reduced-price meals and then apply for P-EBT.
    • CPS families do not need to do this. They should apply directly for P-EBT.
  • Current SNAP participants are automatically eligible for P-EBT and should see the benefit increase on their LINK card.

P-EBT will be in place until the end of the school year, unless schools reopen before that time.

The public charge test does not consider receipt of P-EBT benefits. Using P-EBT benefits will not impact a parent or child’s immigration status.

Undocumented households with school-aged children are eligible for P-EBT.

How can I apply?

  • Current and newly approved SNAP recipients will automatically see these benefits deposited on their LINK Card.
  • Those not currently on SNAP will have to complete a simplified application and if approved will be mailed a LINK card. This application can be completed through the ABE Online Application system. Approved applicants will receive a LINK card in the mail.

To apply for P-EBT directly through IDHS, use the ABE Online Application system or call 800-843-6154. There’s also a paper application that can be filled out and faxed or emailed to IDHS – links to the paper application can be found below.

Legal Aid Chicago can also help you apply for P-EBT!

  • Call them at (312) 347-8342 for help.
  • For more information on Legal Aid Chicago’s Public Benefits Helpline, click here.