September 21, 2022
The Pandemic EBT program was created to replace the free and reduced-price school meals that children lost access to due to school closures in the spring of 2020. Over time, the program has expanded to respond to the changing circumstances of the pandemic, children attending school under a hybrid model or COVID-19-related absences; to provide benefits to children under the age of 6 participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); to replace missed meals at child care; and to provide summer benefits. During the last two and a half years, this program has reached millions of children and provided billions of dollars in benefits to keep hungry children fed during a tumultuous time.
On September 8, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released guidance for school year 2022–2023 Pandemic EBT plans for both school-age students and children under 6 on SNAP. The guidance is similar to the guidance for school year 2021–2022, with a few key differences:
- USDA has updated their guidance to include benefits for students who attended a National School Lunch Program-participating school; were free or reduced-price eligible; and entered virtual academies and homeschooling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The daily benefit for school year 2022–2023 Pandemic EBT is $8.18 ($12.83 for Alaska, $9.45 for Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands) — a change from $7.10 a day from school year 2021–2022.
- States must now rely on free and reduced-price meal certification for the 2022–2023 school year to determine eligibility for benefits.
- States must provide a way for quarantining students to claim and receive benefits, as well as provide benefits for any school or districtwide closures.
- To qualify for benefit issuance, a school must be closed or operating at reduced attendance or hours for at least five consecutive days.
- To provide summer 2023 Pandemic EBT benefits, a state must have either a school-age or child care plan in place for the 2022–2023 school year.
- Pandemic EBT benefits for school year 2022–2023 will remain available as long as the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) is in effect. Even if the PHE expires and school year benefits for school-age and young children end, school-age children currently remain eligible for summer 2023 benefits. It is important to note that changes to current law could change the availability of Pandemic EBT summer benefits.
FRAC looks forward to working with states and partners to implement Pandemic EBT for school year 2022–2023 for both children in child care and school-age students, and to once again ensure children have access to much needed nutrition benefits to replace missed meals at school or child care.
 As was the case last year, USDA will consider one student who is absent for at least five consecutive days due to COVID-19 as reduced attendance for the school and will deem students who qualify after that as eligible.
 The Public Health Emergency is currently set to expire in October 2022, but it could be extended again by Secretary Becerra of the Department of Health and Human Services.