Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) has been a huge relief to low income families affected by the coronavirus pandemic. If you are receiving food stamps, you probably have a lot of questions about this program. What is it? Why am I getting it (or not getting it)? How long will it last?
Fortunately, we’ve found answers.
One of the things that we’ve discovered as part of our research is that there are two separate programs that are boosting people’s food stamps allowances. These programs are often confused for one program, but they are truly separate.
- Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) is for children who would ordinarily receive free or reduced school meals if their schools were open.
- Emergency Allotments (EA) have other rules.
This article is for Pandemic EBT only.
What is pandemic EBT (P-EBT)?
Pandemic EBT is a new program authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020. This emergency plan provides extra food benefits to families with school-age children who would normally receive free or reduced price meals if schools were open.
Since schools are closed nationwide due to the outbreak, the government has authorized states to operate this program to help those families afford the extra food that they need.
Please note that not all states are participating.
Pandemic EBT is not available in all states. As of this writing, the USDA has announced that the following states are participating in a P-EBT program.
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
This means that Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah are not participating.
Who can get pandemic EBT?
These benefits available to families who receive food stamps and those who do not usually receive food stamps, as long as they have children that have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to pandemic school closures.
In order to be eligible for P-EBT, your household must:
- Live in a state that is participating in this program.
- Include an eligible child or children, who would receive free or reduced-price school meals if their schools were open
- Be affected by a school closure that is at least five consecutive days during a public health emergency designation
How much is pandemic EBT worth?
The USDA has advised that the extra benefits should be equal to the cost of free breakfast and lunch served at school for any days that school was closed. Each child is entitled to receive that amount.
The amount of money is based on the number of cancelled school days and the benefits can be issued until the end of the regularly scheduled school year.
For people in the contiguous US, the daily benefit is worth $5.70. That’s $28.50 per week, or $114 per four weeks. In Alaska, the value is $9.16 per day or $183.20 per every four weeks. In Hawaii, Guam and the Virgin Islands, the benefit is $6.66 per day or $113.20 for every four weeks.
How do I get P-EBT?
If you already have an open food stamps case, states are supposed to coordinate with school districts to automatically increase the amount of your benefits. You should not have to do anything in order to receive pandemic EBT benefits.
However, if you do not have an open food stamps case, then you may need to complete an application so that the case can be set up in the state’s system. You will need to provide information about the household, including the number and names of eligible children and the address that the school district has on file. States have the option of automating this process, but you may need to file an application if you do not receive the benefits automatically.
How long will Pandemic EBT last?
Because these benefits were intended to replace meals provided by the free and reduced student meals program, the benefits will end when the school year would usually end.
The USDA has recommended that unused benefits should be expunged (removed from the account) after a full calendar year, but each state can set their own timeline.