Cards being sent in multiple mailings that began May 10

May 12, 2021

(DES MOINES, Iowa) – The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) and Iowa Department of Education announced today the distribution plan for Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) food assistance benefits for eligible Iowa schoolchildren.

The federal Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act allows states to issue emergency food assistance benefits to households with children in Pre-K through grade 12 who temporarily lost access to Free and Reduced Price School Meals during the 2020-21 school year due to pandemic-related school schedule changes and closures.

P-EBT cards are being distributed through multiple rounds of mailings. The first round of mailings began the week of May 10 and included eligible students who attend the 186 school districts and 51 participating nonpublic schools that submitted eligibility information to the Iowa Department of Education in April. Mailings will continue through the summer as more districts and nonpublic schools submit eligibility information.

“We want to make Iowa families aware of the arrival of the P-EBT cards to prevent families from throwing the envelopes away, not realizing what they contain,” said Janee Harvey, DHS Division Administrator of Adult, Child and Family Services. “New cards for all eligible students will arrive in white envelopes addressed with the child’s name with an Austin, Texas, return address beginning the week of May 10, 2021. The cards inside will be white, with black font, with IOWA P-EBT printed at the top, and will bear the name of the eligible child. Families must follow the included instructions to activate the card.”

Each card will initially include benefits for eligible days, as reported by school districts and participating nonpublic schools, from September through December 2020. Families should keep this card since they will use the same card to access subsequent benefits, which will be deposited between June 11-20 for eligible days in January through March 2021. Benefits for April and May 2021 will be deposited between July 11-20.

Parents can call the Iowa Department of Education P-EBT phone line at 515-281-5294 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday with questions on their children’s eligibility for P-EBT. Questions about card activation, and lost cards should be directed to 1-800-359-5802.

A comprehensive FAQ document, including eligibility information and images of the card, is available on the Iowa Department of Education website. Families are encouraged to visit the website to find answers to the most common P-EBT questions.


Program contact:

P-EBT phone line

Iowa Department of Education


Media contact:

Matt Highland