How to Apply for Pandemic EBT Program (P-EBT)
P-EBT, or Pandemic EBT, is a federal program that provides eligible families with a one-time payment for children who attend a school that’s closed due to a pandemic and who would otherwise receive free or reduced-price meals. The P-EBT program works the same way as the food stamps program or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Children who do not currently receive food stamps but were receiving free or reduced-price meals at school can qualify for P-EBT. In this post, we will explain everything you need to know in order to successfully apply for the Pandemic EBT program.
In addition, we will provide the list of states that have been approved for P-EBT and how to apply for the program in your state.
Finally, we will answer the most frequently asked questions about the P-EBT program.
This post will cover:
- Who created P-EBT? Who Runs it?
- P-EBT Benefits Eligibility Requirements
- How to Apply for Pandemic EBT Program by State
- P-EBT Frequently Asked Questions
Who created P-EBT? Who Runs it?
The P-EBT program was created as part of The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which was passed into law by Congress in March 2020 response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered in each approved state by the state agencies responsible for the food stamps program and K-12 Education.
The P-EBT program is in addition to other food assistance services families may be participating in, including curbside lunch services provided by county boards of education and maximum food stamps benefit approved for March, April, and May 2020.
Pandemic EBT Eligibility Requirements
As school facilities remain closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, households that meet the following criteria may now be eligible to receive P-EBT benefits to help them buy food for their children:
- Families with one or more children in their household
- Children normally receive free and reduced-price meals at school
How to Apply for Pandemic EBT Program
There are two steps to receiving Pandemic EBT benefits.
Step 1 – Make sure your State is Approved
The first step to receiving P-EBT benefits is to make sure your state has to be approved for the program by the USDA. To see if your state has been approved, see our list of approved states below.
Step 2a – Families already Receiving Food Stamps
If your family currently receives Food Stamps (SNAP) and/or Temporary or Cash Assistance benefits and you have school-age children (ages 5-18), you will automatically receive P-EBT food benefits for each eligible school-age child in your household.
The benefits will automatically be issued to your family’s current EBT card.
Step 2b – Families not Receiving Food Stamps
If you have children who receive free or reduced-price school lunch but your family does not receive SNAP, Temporary, or Cash Assistance benefits, your state may automatically send you a Pandemic EBT card.
You will receive notice in the mail confirming your P-EBT benefits starting in May.
However, if your state has been approved for P-EBT and you have not been contacted or received notification regarding P-EBT, call your state’s food stamps agency or department of education to find out how to apply.
For more information, click on your state’s P-EBT program information page below.
States Approved for Pandemic EBT Program
Below is the list of states approved for the Pandemic EBT program as of May 19, 2020.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Pandemic EBT Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are the most frequently asked questions regarding the Pandemic EBT program.
What are P-EBT food benefits?
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 authorized the payment of P-EBT food benefits to households with children who would have received free or reduced-price school meals under the National School Lunch Act, if not for school closure.
These temporary food benefits are to help cover the cost of meals children would otherwise have received at school.
What is the National School Lunch Program?
The National School Lunch Program is a federal program that provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost, or free meals to students.
Who is eligible for P-EBT benefits?
All families with school-aged children who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals under the National School Lunch Program. This includes any student in a school that provided free meals to all students.
How do I find out if I am eligible?
If your child/children receive free or reduced-price school lunches, then they are eligible to receive P-EBT food benefits for the days their school was closed due to COVID-19.
You will be getting a letter in the mail from your state’s department of education or your state agency that administers the food stamps program.
If you do not get a letter in the mail by late May and your child received free or reduced-price school meals, contact your state’s agency responsible for the P-EBT program above.
If eligible, how much money will I get?
Households will receive $5.70 per eligible student per day, or $28.50 a week while school is closed due to COVID-19.
Each state will decide how to disburse the payments (monthly or lump sum).
If you are currently receiving food stamps, your P-EBT benefits will be added to your existing EBT card.
If not currently receiving food stamps benefits, you will receive a P-EBT card in the mail for each eligible student in your household.
My family needs food now. When will I get this?
Families will start to receive funds in May. Once you get your P-EBT card, do not throw it away. Additional funds may be added at a later date.
How often will I get P-EBT benefits?
You will receive details specific to your situation in the letter from your state’s department of education.
Where can I use my P-EBT benefits? What can I buy with them?
You can use your P-EBT benefits at any store that accepts food stamps or SNAP benefits. T
P-EBT benefits can be used to buy any SNAP-eligible food. See the list of SNAP-eligible foods here.
Do I have to use all my P-EBT benefits when I get them?
No. The money will carry over from month to month. Benefits that are not used for over a year will be removed from the card.
Will getting P-EBT impact my family’s ‘public charge’ status?
No. Using P-EBT benefits does not impact your or your child’s immigration status. The Public Charge rule does not apply to P-EBT benefits.
Do P-EBT benefits replace grab and go meal sites?
No. P-EBT benefits supplement grab and go meal sites. They do not replace them.
Are children who are still receiving school meals through COVID-19 emergency feeding sites eligible to participate in P-EBT?
Yes, Pandemic EBT benefits are additional food benefits that do not replace any child nutrition program meals being offered.
Children may continue to receive “grab n go” meals or emergency food at COVID-19 emergency feeding sites offered by schools and community locations, even if they are receiving Pandemic EBT benefits.
Does a child’s immigration status impact their ability to participate in P-EBT?
No, P-EBT is a program that is affiliated with free and reduced-price meal eligibility. Similar to school meal programs, there are no restrictions by immigration status associated with P-EBT. P-EBT is not the same as Food Stamps or SNAP.
How to Apply for Pandemic EBT Program Summary
We hope this post on how to apply for Pandemic EBT Program was helpful to you. If you have any additional questions about the P-EBT program or food stamp benefits in general, please leave those in the comments section below.