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Pandemic EBT benefits (P-EBT)

What are ‘P-EBT’ or Pandemic EBT benefits? 

The Pandemic EBT or P-EBT program is intended to support children who lose access to free or reduced-price school meals due to pandemic related disruptions to in-person instruction or school facility closures. The program provides food benefits to children who would have received free or reduced-price school meals through the federal School Breakfast or National School Lunch Programs if not for the disruption to in-person instruction or school facility closure.

 

What is the P-EBT Extension?

Recently, California was approved to issue additional P-EBT benefits for the months of August and September 2020. This is referred to as the “P-EBT Extension.”

The P-EBT program originally provided food benefits to eligible school aged children for the months of March, April, May, and June 2020. Eligible households received a standard benefit amount that was issued via a lump sum on their P-EBT card. P-EBT cards were issued beginning in May 2020 and through September 2020. Some families received their card in the mail automatically, while others had to apply online. The original P-EBT program is referred to as “P-EBT 1.0”.


Who is eligible for P-EBT benefits? 

Children who previously received benefits under the original P-EBT 1.0 program will receive P-EBT extension benefits if they:

       ● are still a California registered student; and

       ● were assumed to be attending school via distance learning or virtual instruction for at least 5 consecutive days during the months of August and September 2020.

Children who are newly eligible for free or reduced-price school meals for the current 2020-21 school year are not eligible for P-EBT extension benefits. This includes children who just started school for the first time as a preschooler or kindergartener for the current 2020-21 school year.

Children newly eligible for free or reduced-price school meals will be served under a new P-EBT program for the current 2020-21 school year. This is referred to as the “P-EBT 2.0 program”. More information about the new P-EBT 2.0 program is coming soon. Families can periodically check the CDSS P-EBT Homepage for more information about the upcoming program.

Eligibility for the P-EBT extension was determined through data matching between the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). The data matching process is based on information about children who previously received P-EBT 1.0 benefits. It does not include children who may be newly eligible for free or reduced-price school meals for the current 2020-21 school year.

Children who were home-schooled during the 2019-20 school year were not eligible for P-EBT 1.0 benefits and are not eligible for P-EBT extension benefits.

 

How do I get P-EBT Extension benefits?

Eligible families do not need to do anything to get P-EBT extension benefits. Under the P-EBT extension, each eligible child will receive a new P-EBT card with benefits for the months of August and September 2020. These new P-EBT cards will be mailed directly to eligible families without having to apply online.

 

When will I get P-EBT extension benefits?

New P-EBT cards will begin arriving in the mail in early November 2020 and through the end of December 2020

 

How much in P-EBT benefits will families receive? 

An eligible family will get $5.86 per child per day for every eligible school day. The P-EBT extension benefit amount is based on each student’s learning situation and can vary from student to student, even within a family.

Benefit amounts under the P-EBT extension are based on individual student and school level data. The total amount an individual child is eligible to receive depends on the start date of virtual instruction/distance learning at the school the child attended during the 2019-2020 school year. Benefit amounts were determined based on data matching between CDE and the CDSS.

 

What can families buy with P-EBT benefits?

P-EBT benefits can buy food in most grocery stores and farmer's markets. Families are also able to utilize this card online at Amazon and Walmart. Families use P-EBT cards like a debit card: 

  • Select "EBT" 
  • Swipe the card 
  • Enter private PIN number 

 

Will P-EBT affect immigration status or public charge status? 

P-EBT is a disaster emergency benefit based on free and reduced fee school meals eligibility, similar to other benefits that DHS has said would not be considered for public charge purposes. However, USCIS can consider several factors under their public charge test.

 

Family Support and Helpline

Families can call California's EBT customer service center at (877) 328-9677 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

 

 
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