P-EBT Cards Helping Students and Families


Maddy Torres

The P-EBT card and paperwork sent to students across the Palm Beach County School District.

The Department of Children and Families has provided P-EBT benefits to over 1.7 million students throughout Florida, helping those who have lost access to free school meals as a consequence of pandemic-related issues. 

“P-EBT” stands for “Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer.” Funds were mailed to student families in the form of an ATM card.

As a result of pandemic-related absences from school, students missed out on free and reduced breakfasts and lunches provided at school. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) authorized Florida to issue P-EBT benefits to make up for that hardship.

“I think COVID is what puts the idea in people’s heads that not everyone has support from their parents and not everyone has parents that can give them money to buy themselves food,” Eleanor Willis, senior, said. 

The program recognized that students faced trouble affording food outside of school.

“I’m a senior going to college and P-EBT will help me be less stressed when having to buy my own food,” Willis said. 

P-EBT can be used in locations that display the QUEST logo and or signs indicating, “EBT Accepted Here.” The benefits can be used to buy all grocery items with the exception of alcohol, foods with supplement labels and hot foods.

“The card can be used at different eligible grocery stores such as Publix and Whole Foods,” Ryan Bonner, freshman, said. 

Though the students who have received this card are grateful, some have said they feel they shouldn’t have received it and P-EBT should only be given to those in need. 

“I felt hopeful because it showed that the government wanted to take action to help people. I also felt disappointed though because I wish the government would have given more to the less fortunate, not just everyone,” Bonner said.

Similarly, Willis said, “I think people should sign up for it, […] not all of us need it and might just throw it away, and that’s horrible for the people who do need it and don’t have the money or support from their family.”

This supplemental benefit for households helps students throughout Florida to purchase groceries without having to worry about costs. The program provided funds for families who had applied and qualified for SNAP and related benefits during the 2021-22 school year.

“This will help those in need to buy foods that they actually like and keep them full,” Brooke Huggins, senior, said. 

Students expressed a mix of surprise and gratitude at receiving the benefit.

“I don’t see every student using it but I do think that the kids who do need it will be a huge sigh of relief,” Willis said.

Jupiter High School participates in the National School Lunch Program, which is one step in entitling students to receive benefits. In order to receive the P-EBT card or free and reduced lunches, families can click on the tile at the Palm Beach School District portal to register for benefits.