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Pandemic EBT (P-EBT): 6 Things You Need to Know

Pandemic EBT (P-EBT): 6 Things You Need to Know

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.

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

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.

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Nicole is the owner and lead researcher for Low Income Relief. She has over 20 years of professional research and writing experience, and she has been solely dedicated to investigating low income topics for the last 10 years. Nicole started Low Income Relief after a personal experience with poverty. When her husband was medically discharged from the US Army, their family experienced tremendous financial hardship. Nicole was able to gather help from multiple community agencies and move into a nearby low income housing unit in just two weeks! Since then, Nicole has been dedicated to helping low income families in crisis. She regularly spends hundreds of hours combing through countless resources to make sure that Low Income Relief has the most comprehensive and complete resource directories on the internet today. Prior to starting Low Income Relief, Nicole worked as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter and content creator. Her work has been featured in various print and online publications, including USA Today, The Daily Herald, The Chronicle and more. Her work has also been featured by Google for Publishers and other leading industry publications.


Thursday 3rd of June 2021


Hannah Benge

Friday 4th of June 2021

Unfortunately those who are home schooled are not eligible. Here's an article with more info -Hannah


Tuesday 25th of May 2021

I received a P-EBT card for my disabled daughter who aged out of the school system last year July ( she is 22) and my youngest daughter who is in college ( Freshman) also received a P-EBT card. We are not a low income family and have never used food stamps. This has to be a mistake. These funds could be used for people that are in dire need. Am I supposed to contact the instituiton? I have a feeling that our local school did not remove both my daughters from their student lists. They went to the same school district and graduated together.

Hannah Benge

Monday 31st of May 2021

You definitely will need to contact the institution if you don't want the funds, or just don't use them. They would have been automatically qualified if you get free or reduced lunch. -Hannah


Tuesday 17th of November 2020

My son is not in school... he was due to start daycare this year but did not due to covid. I work in the schools, can I still get one for him?

Hannah Benge

Wednesday 25th of November 2020

I've added this to the research list for us to look at. Thanks! -Hannah


Wednesday 11th of November 2020

I just received my P-EBT card I didn't know about this program and I already have a EBT card. My questions are will it affect my original EBT card and why did it come in my childs name and since it came in his name (he's only 9) will it affect him? Also I'm not even sure how I should activate it since it is in his name do I use his SS# or mine?

Pamela A Howes

Saturday 2nd of January 2021

I received 3 cards, on for each of my grandchildren I am raising. Each card was in a child's name. Per the instructions I received, you are to use zeros for the SS#. I received the cards in October and the letter stated they were for the months of August and September.

Hannah Benge

Wednesday 11th of November 2020

Your P-EBT should not affect your normal EBT. As far as who's social security number, you will want to visit your states website to look it up. They should have a contact form available as well - if the question isn't answered on the website, you can fill out the forms and someone should reach out to answer your question. We will put this on the research list as well, but I would recommend looking it up online. Thanks! -Hannah


Sunday 8th of November 2020

We received an p-ebt card directly from the school this past week with a letter that said it was a payment for September or something like. We just received another card in the mail and it doesn't mention dates. Perhaps it is a payment for October? I wasn't expecting a p-ebt card at all because we haven't gotten anything until now so I'm a little confused. Should I activate and use both cards? As in each card is a payment?

Hannah Benge

Monday 9th of November 2020

Normally, I believe it would fill to the same card again. Is there a number associated with the card or on the back of it? I would recommend calling go see if you can get information that way. Thanks! -Hannah