Author Archive: Rise & Shine Illinois

Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT): What You Need to Know

Thanks to the dedicated child nutrition advocates for laying out the who, what, when, and how of P-EBT.

We encourage all school administrators and Food Service Directors to share this resource with their community to help spread the word about P-EBT!

Click below for a printable version of the FAQ sheet

What are P-EBT food benefits?
The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) provides benefits to certain children who receive free or reduced-price school lunches under the National School Lunch Act. P-EBT is a temporary food benefit program operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. P-EBT only provides benefits for days that students lack access to an in-school lunch. P-EBT provides $6.82 per each school day that children are engaged in remote learning.

Who is eligible for P-EBT benefits?
Your child and your school must meet certain criteria to be eligible for P-EBT:

Your Child:

  • Must be enrolled in free or reduced-price school meals at a school operating the National School Lunch Program; OR,
  • Must be enrolled in a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) or Provision-2 school, which offers breakfast and lunch free to all students; AND,
  • Must have not had access to an in-school lunch at least some days of the month

Your School:

  • Must operate the National School Lunch Program; AND,
  • Must have been closed or operating at reduced capacity at least 5 consecutive days at some point during the 2020-2021 School Year.

How are P-EBT benefits issued? Do I need to apply?
If your child is already enrolled in free or reduced-price school meals AND your address is up-to-date:

  • Your family will get P-EBT automatically. Each child will receive their own card.
  • Cards will be mailed to you in March.
  • Cards will arrive in an unmarked envelope so please be on the lookout.
  • Families should hold onto their P-EBT card(s) because future benefits will be loaded onto the same card.

If you are new to a school district, if your child did not receive free or reduced-price meals last school year, OR if you recently moved:

  • You must fill out an application for free or reduced-price school meals by contacting your school.

When will P-EBT benefits be issued?
Benefits will be issued for August 2020 through June 2021 for the days that schools have been closed during the 2020-2021 school year.

  • In March, families will receive a distribution for the months of August 2020 through December 2020.
  • In April, families will receive a distribution for January 2021 through February.
  • Beginning in May, families will receive a monthly benefit for the remainder of the school year.

Benefits will be issued between the 11th and the 22nd of each month going by the first letter of the student’s last name. Students’ benefits will be issued on the same day in subsequent months so your family can plan your food budget.

I am worried about receiving P-EBT because of my immigration status. Will getting this benefit count in a public charge test?
No. It is important to know that P-EBT will not count in a public charge test. All students are eligible regardless of immigration status. Visit ProtectingImmigrantFamilies.Org for information about what public benefits impact the public charge test.

I have been receiving grab ‘n go meals at my school. Can I still receive P-EBT?
Yes, children and teens can still receive free meals from school and community sites AND get P-EBT, too – they are separate programs.
• To find free meal sites near you, text the word “food” or “comida” to “877-877”
• You can also visit your school district website to find school meal locations in your area.

In the 2019-2020 school year I had to apply for P-EBT benefits. Do I need to fill out another application?
You do not need to apply for P-EBT, but you must make sure your child is enrolled in free or reduced-price meals OR attends a CEP school where all meals are provided for free AND that your address is up-to-date with your school.

In the 2019-2020 school year I received P-EBT benefits. Will the benefits for the 2020-2021 school year be loaded onto the same P-EBT card?
No, you will receive a new P-EBT card with the student’s name on the card. Each month, benefits will automatically be loaded onto that card for as long as P-EBT operates.

In the 2019-2020 I received P-EBT benefits but I threw away or lost my P-EBT card. Can I still get benefits?
Yes, you will receive a new P-EBT card with the student’s name on the card. Each month, benefits will automatically be loaded onto that card for as long as P-EBT operates.

If I’m currently receiving LINK, can P-EBT benefits be loaded on to there?
No, you will receive a new EBT card with the student’s name on the card specifically for P-EBT. Each month, benefits will automatically be loaded onto that card for as long as P-EBT operates.

My child is attending school in the classroom every day. Are they eligible for P-EBT?
P-EBT benefits are supposed to replace the meals that students receive in person at the school. A student who is in the classroom full-time will receive meals at the school instead of receiving a P-EBT benefit.

My child is attending school in a hybrid model where they are in the classroom some days and learning remote some days. Are they eligible for P-EBT?
Yes, your child’s attendance will be counted by the school and they will receive a benefit amount based on the number of days that they lack access to an in-school lunch.

I think my child is eligible for free or reduced-price meals but we haven’t enrolled. Can I still get P-EBT?
You can still get P-EBT but you must apply for free or reduced-price meals with your child’s school. You may be eligible for benefits retroactive to August but you should apply as soon as possible.
How do I know if my child is eligible for free or reduced-price lunch?
Visit to view the income eligibility guidelines for free or reduced-price school meals.

My child received free or reduced-price school meals, but I did not receive a P-EBT card in the mail. Who do I contact?

Benefit cards will not be mailed until March. If it is February or March, please be patient as the state implements this new program. If it is the end of March and you have not received your card please call the Illinois Department of Human Services at 1-800-843-6154 or email

My child didn’t get P-EBT in the 2019-2020 school year. Can I apply now and still get P-EBT benefits for the 2019-2020 school year?
No, you cannot get P-EBT benefits for the 2019-2020 school year. However, you may be eligible to receive benefits retroactively to the start of this school year (August 2020) if your child was engaged in remote learning.

If my child receives P-EBT, can I still get food pantry benefits?
Yes, your participation in government programs does not affect your ability to get food from a food pantry.

Where can I redeem P-EBT benefits?
P-EBT benefits are provided on a card that can be used like a debit card to purchase food at SNAP authorized grocery stores.

Illinois Food Finder

Finding safe and healthy food should never be a concern in Illinois. Thanks to the Feeding Illinois partnership, a network of eight food banks across the state ensure that every suburb, town, and neighborhood has food resources to feed individuals and families.

How to Use This Resource:
Depending on your county, your food bank provider and local food pantry may change. To find the closest food pantry, find the county you live or work in on the state regional maps below. Once found, click on the corresponding link which will take you to a geographic food finder tool built specifically for your region. Simply enter a zip code, address, school, or town into the search bar to find local food options. We advise visiting the website of your chosen food pantry or giving them a call to confirm openings/closures and hours of operation.

Central Illinois Food Bank

Counties served: Adams, Pike, Brown, Scott, Greene, Schuyler, Cass, Morgan, Macoupin, Menard, Sangamon, Montgomery, Bond, Logan, Christian, Macon, Shelby, Fayette, Effingham, Marion, Jefferson

Eastern Illinois Food Bank 

Counties served: Woodford, Livingston, Ford, Iroquois, De Witt, Platt, McLean, Champaign, Vermillion, Edgar, Douglas, Moultre, Coles, Clark, Cumberland, Jasper, Crawford, Clay

Greater Chicago Food Depository 

Counties served: Cook

Northern Illinois Food Bank 

Counties served: Stephenson, Winnebago, Boone, McHenry, Lake, Ogle, Dekalb, Kane, DuPage, Kendall, Will, Grundy, Kankakee

Peoria Area Food Bank 

Counties served: Peoria, Tazewell, Mason

River Bend Food Bank 

Counties served: Jo Daviess, Carroll, Whiteside, Lee, Rock Island, Henry, Bureau, LaSalle, Mercer, Knox, Stark, Putnam, Marshall, Henderson, Warren, Hancock, McDonough, Fulton

St. Louis Area Food Bank  

Counties served: Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, St. Clair, Clinton, Monroe, Washington, Randolph, Perry, Franklin, Jackson, Williamson

Tri-State Food Bank 

Counties served: Richland, Lawrence, Wayne, Edwards, Wabash, Hamilton, White, Saline, Gallatin, Union, Johnson, Pope, Hardin, Alexander, Pulaski, Massac

Illinois Virtual Dairy Farm Tour

Looking for a resource to teach kids about where their food comes from? Connect with seventh-generation family-owned Jersey dairy farm Marcoot Jersey Creamery! Learn how they care for their cows to produce delicious milk for you to enjoy on this virtual Illinois dairy farm tour! Visit the Dairy Excellence Foundation YouTube Channel at 10 a.m. on Thursday, October 22 to view this tour live!

Illinois Virtual Dairy Farm Tour

For more information, check out this flyer if you are a parent or student and this flyer if you are a teacher or school administrator wanting to use this trip as a part of your curriculum.

Schools, Families Adjust as USDA Ends Free Meal Waivers

Many Bloomington-Normal kids will no longer get the free school meals they’ve been getting since the start of the pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave each school district waivers to put all students on the free meal plan at the start of the pandemic, including during the summer. But as schools reopen, many of them virtually, the federal agency reversed course and now has schools charging those families that typically pay the reduced or full price, based on financial need.

District 87’s Director of School Nutrition Caroline Bubulka said she has written Congress asking the USDA to reconsider.

“Many families have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bubulka said. “A lot of them are in different job situations. They may not have the income that they previously had.”

Unit 5 Director of Food Services Joanna Rewerts said tracking those charges for each family is a challenge, especially since the district is doing meal pickups and deliveries during remote learning.

Read the full story on the WGLT website.

A Noble Response to a Noble Virus

Noble Network of Charter Schools found out on a Friday that school would be closed the next Monday for the foreseeable future. Monica Bromber-Karis, Director of Dining Services, spent the whole weekend brainstorming, planning, and implementing food distribution strategies for Noble Schools. Sure enough, meal kits were ready to go the very first Monday school was closed.

Noble sent out newsletters and used community connections, social media, and their website to promote the free meal program. Monica even looked for nearby businesses on Google Maps and reached out to see if they would help spread the word. Once word got out, the number of meals served started to increase rapidly, resulting in 235,000 meals being given out to date through the federal government’s school food program!. Monica said, “I immediately heard from our food service staff about how appreciative and thankful people are.” And with the variety of healthy, kid-friendly meals, it is no surprise that Noble has seen such success. By working to increase the variety of foods on the menu, kids now receive fan-favorites like spicy chicken sandwiches and roast beef subs in their meal kits.

What has been key to Noble’s success? Monica has always focused on making sure their food service staff feel safe and supported. Staff were provided with PPE and food pickup stations were set up in a manner that allows for no-contact pickup. Monica said, “Our food service staff from Chartwells and Aramark are members of our Noble family and they are doing work that is helping the most vulnerable members of our communities when it is needed the most. In turn we wanted to do all we can to show them our love, appreciation, and support.”

Monica and her team are continuing to grow Noble’s distribution. Ellen Moiani, Manager of Government and Community Affairs, helped facilitate a partnership with a community organization serving kids that needed some help feeding them. Now, Noble delivers meal kits directly to 3 community organizations, and Monica hopes the number of organizations her team serves will continue to grow.

DeKalb SD 428 Shout Out!

After receiving a $13,800 grant from Rise & Shine Illinois and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign the DeKalb School District began its Second Chance Breakfast Program. Students can grab a nutritional breakfast after the bell rings and between first and second period. The full story can be read on the Daily Chronicle’s website.


National School Breakfast Week (NSBW) is the first week in March and was established to raise awareness of the availability of the School Breakfast Program to all children. During this week, schools put their breakfast programs on display. The #NSBW19 theme is “Start Your Engines With School Breakfast,” which is designed to show parents, students, and school officials the benefits of fueling up for the day with a healthy school breakfast.

4 Things You Can Do During NSBW to Celebrate

  1. Apply for a Breakfast After the Bell grant before the March 4th deadline. If you have already received a grant from us and are seeking additional funds email Sr. Manager of Children’s Nutrition and Advocacy Outreach, Monique Batteast at
  2. Email Communications Associate Manager, Rudi Hancock at with a few sentences and a couple of pictures of what’s going on in your school during this week/month. We will shout out your school’s activities with posts on Rise & Shine Facebook and Twitter Pages.
  3. Copy and paste the following message on Facebook:


4. Encourage one colleague or friend to sign up for the Rise & Shine Illinois monthly e-newsletter.

Fall Peer-To-Peer Site Visits

Peer-to-Peer site visits provide schools/districts considering implementing or have already implemented a Breakfast After the Bell program with the opportunity to see how the Breakfast After the Bell program works live and in action. The site visits also provide a networking opportunity for schools/districts.



Rise & Shine Illinois will host a Peer-to-Peer site visit at Elmwood Park High School (Second Chance Breakfast Model) located at 8201 W. Fullerton Avenue, Elmwood Park, Friday October 5, 2018 from 8:45 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. For more information and to register click here.

Rise & Shine Illinois will host a Peer-to-Peer Site Visit at Perspectives Charter School (Grab ‘N’ Go Breakfast Model) located on 8131 S. May Street, Chicago, Tuesday, September 25, 2018 from 7:30 – 9:00 a.m. For more information and to register click here.