Pandemic EBT benefits (P-EBT)

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

Due to coronavirus (COVID 19), children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school will get extra food benefits. These food benefits are called Pandemic EBT or P-EBT benefits. P-EBT benefits help families in California buy food when school is closed. 


Who is eligible for P-EBT benefits? 

Children are eligible for P-EBT benefits if:

  • Their school is closed due to coronavirus (COVID 19); and 
  • They are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals

Note: Children who are eligible for P-EBT benefits can still pick up ‘to-go‘meals in their community. 

How do families receive P-EBT benefits? 

  • Most families with children who receive CalFresh, Medi-Cal or Foster Care benefits do not need to apply online. They will get their P-EBT card in the mail between May 7 - 22, 2020. P-EBT cards will be issued in the name of the eldest child with the whole family amount (benefits will not expire for one year). 
  • Families with children who applied for CalFresh, Medical or Foster Care benefits for the first time this school year after their school closed will not need to apply, but will get their P-EBT card in the mail after May 15, 2020 (will receive a partial portion/prorated amount depending on application date). 
  • Families with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals and who do NOT get CalFresh, Medi-Cal or Foster Care benefits must apply online before June 30, 2020. The application will take approximately 5 min and will be available in four languages. The online application will be available  P-EBT Apply starting May 22, 2020. 


How much in P-EBT benefits will families receive? 

Families can get up to $365 for each child who is eligible for P-EBT benefits. The total amount a family will receive depends on how many eligible children are living in their home. For each eligible child, the family will receive the following each month: 

  • March 2020: $68 per child 
  • April 2020: $120 per child 
  • May 2020: $120 per child 
  • June 2020: $57 per child 


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 


What if a family applied online and didn’t receive a P-EBT card? 

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


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.