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Families of eligible children will get a food benefit to help make up for missed meals at school

April 20, 2023

Waterbury, VT—The federal government has authorized the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF) and Agency of Education (AOE) to provide a temporary food benefit to preK-12 students who would normally receive free or reduced-price meals at school. 

These benefits, called Pandemic EBT or P-EBT, are provided to students who missed meals at school due to a COVID-related reason. Benefits are $8.18 each day an eligible student had a COVID-related absence from September 2022 through January 2023. 

 To be eligible for school P-EBT benefits, children must:

  1. Have absences from school due to a COVID-related reason; and 
  2. Attend a school offering free meals to all students through the Community Eligibility Provision or Provision 2 or be eligible to receive free/reduced-price meals at school.

This school year, all public schools in Vermont and some independent schools are offering free meals to all students through the Community Eligibility Provision or Provision 2. This means that many more Vermont households are eligible for benefits when students miss school due to COVID-related reasons. Approximately $634,000 in benefits will be issued to 15,732 Vermont households. This covers 20,105 students.

Eligible households received a letter explaining the benefit. All eligible households should have received their benefit by April 7.

"A key part of student outcomes is ensuring students are fed and ready to learn,” said Interim Secretary of Education Heather Bouchey. “Making sure that our most vulnerable students are getting the support they need through the end of the school year is an important piece of equity of outcomes.”

“We want to make sure no child goes hungry during this health crisis,” said DCF Commissioner Chris Winters. “The P-EBT benefit will provide much-needed support to Vermont households that typically rely on free or reduced meals at school to feed their children.”

How The Benefit Will Be Issued:

  • Households that currently get 3SquaresVT on an EBT card may be issued this additional benefit on their cards.
  • Other households will be issued benefits on special P-EBT cards issued last year or on new P-EBT cards if the household is new to the program.

P-EBT benefits may be used to buy eligible food items anywhere 3SquaresVT is accepted. Benefits will be active for 9 months from the date of issuance and are non-transferable.

To learn more, read these Frequently-Asked Questions on our website at