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Pandemic-EBT: Food Benefits for Families during COVID-19 School Closures

Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) is a new crisis response nutrition program activated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program provides food benefits to approximately 2.1 million children across the state who lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to school closures.

Our P-EBT Outreach Toolkit

Flyer for families in English or Spanish
The basics about P-EBT, who will receive benefits, and how and when benefits will be distributed.

Sample social media posts
This language can also be used for robocalls or texts.

Infographics
Use on social media, your website, blog posts, or in the body of an email. Right click and save the images.

Sample letter to families
Use this language in a newsletter, as an email, or in a letter to families.

See more ways to help families facing food insecurity below.

About P-EBT

There is no application process. Benefits will be issued automatically.

Each eligible child will receive $420 in food benefits ($5.70 per day for each day school was closed due to COVID-19.)

P-EBT does not replace or affect eligibility for other nutrition programs.

This includes school meals, summer meals, meals provided in childcare, SNAP, and WIC benefits. Families can use P-EBT as well as grab-and-go meal sites or meal delivery from their school or during the summer.

Using P-EBT does not impact a parent, guardian or a child’s immigration status.

Pandemic-EBT is not limited by immigration status. The public charge rule does NOT apply to P-EBT.

EBT cards and benefits are non-transferrable.

Cards cannot be given to another person or household to use. However, families who wish to donate their benefit can buy food and donate it to a food pantry. Please check with local food pantries to see what items are needed.

Who is eligible?

Children who receive free or reduced-price school lunches are eligible to receive P-EBT food benefits. This includes children attending schools where all children receive free school breakfast and lunch.

It also includes the following children, if they receive free or reduced-price school meals through the National School Lunch Program:

  • Children attending private, parochial, and charter schools
  • Three and four-year old children attending Universal Pre-Kindergarten
  • Young adults ages 19 and 21 who are still in school
  • Foster children
  • Children who are non-citizens

If you are unsure if your child(ren)’s school participates in the National School Lunch Program, please contact the school directly.

How much are P-EBT benefits?

Each eligible child will receive $420.

Tell me more

P-EBT food benefits are $5.70 per child, for each day schools were closed due to COVID-19. The monthly benefits for each eligible child are as follows:

  • March – $68.00
  • April – $125.00
  • May – $119.00
  • June – $108.00

The maximum benefit per child will be $420.

How can families use their benefits?

P-EBT benefits will be loaded on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. An EBT card looks and is used like a bank debit card, and can be used to buy food at authorized retail food stores. A detailed list of food items that may be purchased with the benefits can be found here. For more information on how to use an EBT card visit NYSOTDA’s website.

When and how will families receive benefits?

P-EBT benefits will be distributed in three waves:

Is P-EBT SNAP?

P-EBT is not SNAP benefits, and receiving P-EBT does not replace or affect other nutrition programs. P-EBT is also separate from emergency extra SNAP benefits, and families that qualify will receive both.

I am eligible. What should I look for in the mail?

For families who do not have an active Medicaid or EBT card:

Families who do not have an active Medicaid or EBT card will get two separate mailings in late July or August:

  • A P-EBT card (like the one pictured below). Please be sure not to mistake this for spam mail.
  • A notice with information about setting up the card. This notice will be mailed separately from the card. Read the notice carefully, and follow the instructions to activate the P-EBT card.
For households that receive Medicaid:

Households that receive Medicaid will receive P-EBT through their Medicaid CBIC card. These households should watch their mail in July for a notice explaining how to set up and use their current Medicaid card for P-EBT. Households that need a replacement Medicaid card should call the P-EBT helpline at 1-833-452-0096 to request a replacement.

Note: In some cases, households receiving Medicaid may receive a new P-EBT card instead of receiving benefits on their Medicaid card. A separate mailed notice will provide information about setting up and using the card.

For households that receive SNAP and/or Public Assistance:

Households that received SNAP and/or Public Assistance benefits for March 2020 should have already received P-EBT food benefits for each eligible child. These food benefits were automatically issued to the household’s current EBT card in May and June. There were no mailed notices to these households. Families can check their EBT balance at connectebt.com or by calling 1-888-328-6399.

How do I set up my P-EBT or Medicaid card to use at the store?

To access food benefits on a P-EBT or Medicaid card, you must have a Personal Identification Number (PIN). If you do not already have a PIN, you can select one over the phone by calling 1-888-328-6399.

The mailed notice will include important information about selecting a PIN. Please read the notice carefully, and be prepared to provide security information:

  • To select a PIN for a P-EBT card, you will need to provide your zip code and the month and day of the cardholder’s birthday.
  • To select a PIN for a Medicaid card, you will need to provide your zip code and the last four digits of the cardholder’s social security number.

I haven’t received my EBT card or benefits yet. What should I do?

Please be patient, as benefits will be distributed through July and early August. Continue to check your mail throughout the summer. If you have not received a benefit by mid-August, please call the P-EBT Food Benefits Helpline at 833-452-0096 Monday-Friday 8:30am-5pm or email [email protected]

Our family does not need money for food at this time. What should we do with our P-EBT benefit?

Everyone who receives P-EBT should use it. Using the benefit helps your family and the local economy. Benefits are available on your card for one year from the date benefits were issued.

You cannot give your card to another person or household to use. If you wish to donate your benefit, you can buy food and donate it to a food pantry. Please check with local food pantries to see what is needed.

What other programs are available to help families?

SNAP, WIC, school meals, and summer meals help families cope with rising food insecurity and the widespread economic impacts of COVID-19.

Resources you can use to connect families to other nutrition programs:

SNAP:

SNAP client flyer: English or Spanish
Information on applying for SNAP during the COVID-19 Pandemic

SNAP Outreach for Schools Toolkit
Resources to use on your website, social media, and other communications to inform families about SNAP and other available help.

WIC:

Sample articles to provide COVID-19 updates to current and potential WIC participants
Resource Center with outreach materials to use at any time

Summer Meals:

SummerMealsNY.org
Starting in July, children and teenagers can receive free, healthy summer meals at nearby sites, often places like schools and community centers. Visit SummerMealsNY.org for outreach resources and site lists, which will be populated with 2020 site locations in July.

Who do I contact if I have questions about P-EBT benefits?

If you have questions about P-EBT food benefits, please email [email protected] or call 1-833-452-0096. Families can check their EBT balance at connectebt.com or by calling 1-888-328-6399.

Note that your local department of social services is not involved in P-EBT, and has no information about your eligibility or when you will receive these benefits if you are eligible.

Who administers P-EBT in New York State?

The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (NYS OTDA) administers Pandemic-EBT and will issue benefits directly in our state. NYSOTDA’s FAQ, press release, and policy memo provide details about their plan to distribute benefits.

Updated June 29, 2020