How to apply for the Pandemic EBT card

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The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program is a federal program created in the spring of 2020 to supplement school meals students missed while schools were closed or placed on part-time attendance hours due to COVID -19. To be eligible for P-EBT benefits, students must qualify for free or reduced-price school meals under the National School Lunch Program and meet certain conditions defined by the United States Department of Agriculture. Let’s see what it is, what benefits it brings and how you can apply for the school meal card.

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What is the P-EBT card?

The P-EBT or Pandemic EBT Program is a federal program created specifically in response to the coronavirus pandemic. All families with children who are not attending a school that is closed due to the advance of the disease and, therefore, are losing free or reduced-price meals provided by the educational institution, qualify for this program.

It could be said, at least in broad strokes, that the Pandemic EBT Program is similar to the food stamp program (SNAP or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children ( WIC ), but with its differences.

Who created the Pandemic EBT Program?

The Pandemic EBT Program (with your P-EBT card) is contained in the law passed by Congress in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (The Families First Coronavirus Response Act).

According to the legal body, the program is supervised by the United States Department of Agriculture and, like many other federal programs, its management is carried out through the different state agencies. In fact, these same agencies are in charge of the food stamp program, also known as SNAP.

This is how the EBT Program joins other food assistance services in the country. Thanks to it, families with school-age children who meet certain requirements can apply for free school meals, even if they are already approved for the maximum amount of food stamps.

What are the requirements to apply for the P-EBT card in 2022?

The eligibility criteria and requirements of the P-EBT card vary by state, but in general, students are eligible for the benefit during the 2021-2022 school year in the following cases:

  • The school they attend participates in the National School Meals Program or the Seamless Summer Option; and
  • The student has applied and is eligible to receive reduced price school meals.

In addition, you must meet one of the following :

  • Your school closed or switched to online instruction, or has reduced attendance hours for 5 days in a row due to the impact of COVID-19.
  • Their parents tell the school that they will keep their child home due to COVID-19, and the school accepts the absence as COVID-related.

NOTE: Some children under the age of 6 may be able to receive the P-EBT benefit, as long as they are enrolled in the food stamp program.

How to apply for the P-EBT Pandemic EBT Program card?

Applying for the P-EBT card is very simple. In fact, the process only consists of two steps. The last of them will depend on the family’s beneficiary status in the food stamp program. Let’s examine them in detail:

Verify that the Pandemic EBT Program is available in your state

The first step to be able to apply for the P-EBT card is to make sure that your state is included in the approval list of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). To find out if this is the case or not, be sure to see our list of approved states. You will find it in the next section of the article.

It could be said that the second step is divided into two, since it will depend on whether the family has a SNAP card or not.

If the family receives food stamps

If your family has already been declared a beneficiary in the food stamp program (SNAP) or has temporary or cash assistance benefits, and the household is made up of school-age children (5 to 18 years of age), will automatically receive P-EBT food benefits for each eligible child. Since they already have an EBT card, benefits will be loaded onto it automatically.

If the family does not receive food stamps

If your family has school-age children who used to get free or reduced-price lunches at school — but aren’t receiving SNAP benefits or temporary or cash assistance — your state will automatically send you the P-EBT card. Typically, qualified families receive an email confirming their P-EBT benefits and a few days later they receive the P-EBT card (which you will then need to activate in order to use it).
However, if your state has been approved for the P-EBT card, but you have not yet been contacted or notified, call your local food stamp agency or your state department of education directly. to find out how you can apply.

Anyway, check the list of approved states, since there we will leave you the official web pages of the program at the state level. In them, you can find valuable information about the applications.

Has my state been approved for the P-EBT Program?

Here is a list of the states in the country that have been approved for the delivery of Pandemic EBT Program benefits:

What methods does each state use to issue the P-EBT card?

In some states it is not necessary to apply for the P-EBT card since the state sends them directly to needy families.

In the graphic below you can see a map of the United States showing the method that each state has used to distribute P-EBT cards. The states painted in blue have sent the cards directly to the families that met the requirements without them having to apply.

States in yellow are states where you need to fill out a P-EBT card application. These states will send the benefit after reviewing the application and approving it. The striped states, like Montana, are states that use both methods to send out the P-EBT benefit.

What is the difference between EBT and P-EBT?

First of all, the first thing you need to keep in mind is that P-EBT was created to guarantee low-cost or free food to those families with school-age children who used to get it through their school, but now have no more. this protection due to the momentary closure of the educational establishment. In other words, these are students who receive food benefits under the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 or the Russell National School Lunch Act.

These benefits, which are now received electronically through a P-EBT card – in the case of families who do not receive food stamps or temporary food assistance – or through an EBT card, help the family to buy more food to be able to maintain a balanced diet for eligible children and adolescents. Of course: children will only receive the benefits of the program if:

  • Your school is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Received free or low-cost school meals

Now, it could be said that the P-EBT card or, better said, the economic aid is complementary to the benefits that are delivered through the SNAP food stamp program. However, they are different. Although both focus on taking care of the family’s diet. Here are some differences between the Spanish EBT program and P-EBT.

The SNAP EBT program has very different eligibility conditions

In itself, it is reserved to give vulnerable or needy families the opportunity to buy a wide variety of food. It is a well-established program that has earned a rating of being one of the largest in the country, being more inclusive than the WIC Program. To qualify, the family’s net income is taken into account and if the household has an elderly or disabled person.

The amount of benefits between both programs is different

For example, the average household in the state of California receives about $300 per month through CalFresh (SNAP), but it can be as high as $1,155 for families of eight. For P-EBT benefits, the most parents can get per child is $365. However, in Washington DC the P-EBT program provides $7.10 a day per child, which means that we are talking about $142 a month.

The way to apply to the programs is different

Families who want to get food stamps must apply. Instead, the usual thing is that those who qualify for a P-EBT card or to reload benefits on their SNAP card do so automatically and only in some cases do they have to apply online.

What to do if you lost your P-EBT card

In that case, you should report it to the authorities as soon as possible. To do this, you would need to call the phone number on the back of the card, but since you probably won’t be able to see it, then contact your state department of health and human services or the SNAP office closest to your domicile.

These public services have assistance 24 hours a day and will most likely give you the option to listen to your EBT card options in Spanish. Surely they will ask you for some personal information but they will not ask you for a social security number (SSN). There they will be able to inform you when the card that replaces the one you lost could arrive.

What is the deadline to apply for the P-EBT card?

For the states that do not automatically issue the card (illustrated on the map above), the date may vary from state to state.

What is the National School Lunch Program?

The National School Lunch Program is, as its name implies, a federal program that provides nutritionally balanced meals —either low-cost or free —to the nation’s students.

What are the dietary benefits of P-EBT?

The P-EBT food benefits are contained in the coronavirus response law “The Families First Coronavirus Response Act” of 2020. This regulatory body authorized the payment of P-EBT food benefits to those households with children who, for the closure of their school, have stopped receiving the free or reduced-price school meals that they are entitled to under the National School Lunch Act.

These benefits are temporary in nature and are only intended to help families cover the cost of their children’s breakfasts and lunches.

Do P-EBT benefits replace grab-and-go meals?

In fact, no. The use of P-EBT benefits is a supplement to meals on the go. They do not replace them.

Who is eligible to receive the benefits of the P-EBT card?

All families with school-age children who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals are eligible to receive P-EBT benefits, as long as they have not been in school due to COVID, as shown above.

How do I know if I can apply for the P-EBT card?

If your children receive free or reduced-price lunches at school and the establishment is now closed, then you are eligible to receive P-EBT food benefits for the days that school is closed due to the pandemic.

Once benefits have been approved, you will receive a letter in the mail from your state education department or the state agency that administers the food stamp program in your area.

If you did not receive this letter by the end of May and your child is eligible for the program, contact your state SNAP official to find out what happened and what you can do.

How long will you give P-EBT for in 2022?

As we have mentioned, each state has the power to administer the benefits of the P-EBT program. And while most of them have opted to end benefits by the September 6, 2021 deadline, you should check with the nearest SNAP office to see if your children can still receive the card.

Does getting P-EBT benefits affect my family’s immigration status?

No. Using P-EBT benefits does not affect your immigration status or that of your children. The public charge rule does not apply to P-EBT card benefits.

Does my child’s immigration status affect their ability to receive P-EBT benefits?

No. The Pandemic EBT Program is a program that depends on eligibility for free or reduced-price school meals. Therefore, it could be assimilated to school meal programs. There are no restrictions by immigration status. Remember that P-EBT is different from the SNAP food stamp program.

Are children still receiving school meals eligible to participate in P-EBT?

Yes. The benefits of the temporary P-EBT program are characterized by being an additional amount that does not replace the meals offered in the child nutrition program. Children can receive their grab-and-go meals or emergency food at pre-identified sites during the pandemic.

If eligible, how much money can I receive from the Pandemic EBT Program?

In principle, households qualified as beneficiaries will receive $7.10 per eligible student for each day they are unable to attend school, or -what would be the same- $35.5 per student per week. Each state of the country has the power to decide how to deliver the funds, whether on a monthly, weekly or global basis.
If your family currently receives food stamp program benefits, the assigned P-EBT amount will be transferred to that same card. Otherwise, you will receive a new card which is the P-EBT.

How often are benefits transferred to the P-EBT card?

The details of the transfer of funds will be outlined in the letter you receive from your state’s department of education or SNAP agency.

Where can I use P-EBT benefits and what can I buy with them?

You will be able to use P-EBT benefits at any grocery store or supermarket that accepts food stamps or the SNAP EBT card. You can find more information about what you can buy with the P-EBT card by clicking here.

My family urgently needs food, when will I be able to receive it?

The beneficiary families will begin to receive their benefits in the month of February.

Do I have to use all of my P-EBT benefits when I receive them?

No. Money will roll over month-to-month, but benefits will be available for up to one calendar year.

How to activate the Florida P-EBT card?

To activate the card you must call the Spanish EBT Customer Service Center at (877) 328-9677. In 4 you can set your PIN for your new card. You will need the 16-digit number from the front of your card, your zip code for your mailing address, and the 6-digit date of birth for the child named on the card.

Governor Ron DeSantis announced the retroactive summer P-EBT benefit in Florida, which was sent to families beginning in November 2021.

How to activate the Virginia P-EBT card?

  • Call 1-866-281-2448
  • Enter the complete card number (16 digits)
  • When requesting the Social, enter: 0000
  • When asking for date of birth, use the date of the oldest student receiving free lunch (who is under 18 years old)
  • Create a “PIN” (enter 4 numbers that you will remember)