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Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program
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Important Information about Your Child’s School Meals

If you have a child in kindergarten through twelfth grade in your household who was receiving free or reduced-price meals while in school, your child is eligible for the Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits as a result of the school closure.

What is P-EBT?

The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 provides a temporary program called Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT). P-EBT provides children in kindergarten through twelfth grade eligible for free or reduced-price meals with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) benefits. The program is administered by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the Department is partnering with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to ensure children and families receive this important benefit.

For questions regarding P-EBT, please contact the ODJFS customer service line at 1-866-244-0071.  


Frequently Asked Questions

How much will an eligible child receive?
Spring 2020: Each child is eligible for $5.70 (the federal reimbursement rate for breakfast and lunch) for each day a school is closed due to COVID-19.

For children eligible for free and reduced-price meals as of March, the total amount will be $302.10. For children eligible for free and reduced-price meals as of April, the total amount will be $239.40.

August & September P-EBT:  Each child will receive $5.86 (the federal reimbursement rate for breakfast and lunch) for each day a school has a virtual/remote learning period lasting at least 5 consecutive days from August 1 - September 30, 2020.

For example, a child attending a school operating a hybrid model with one week of in-person instruction followed by one week (5 consecutive days) of virtual/remote learning is eligible only for the days the virtual/remote learning occurs.  (P-EBT benefits begin from the first of the 5 consecutive days.)      

A child attending a school operating a hybrid model with in-person instruction occurring every other day (M,W,F) with virtual/remote learning on the other days (T, Th) is NOT eligible for P-EBT.  This is because the virtual/remote learning is not lasting 5 consecutive days.

"5 consecutive days" includes days the schools have chosen to not have learning/instruction either virtually/remotely or in-person.  For example, a school only has remote learning on M, T, Th and F, but no learning/instruction on Wednesdays is eligible for P-EBT.

Weekends days are excluded from the determination of 5 consecutive days.  Fore example, a child attending school remotely/virtually W, Th, F (weekend) M, T, followed by in-person learning W, Th, F, (weekend) M, T would be eligible for P-EBT for the days of remote learning because there were 5 consecutive schools days with the weekend excluded.  The child would not receive benefits for the days the in-person instruction occurred.

Full-time virtual/remote learning options (often referred to as virtual academies) that are offered as part of the school's hybrid model for students to choose instead of in-person instruction (or combination of in-person and remote/virtual learning) meet the requirements for P-EBT.  However, online charter schools do not meet the requirements for P-EBT.

How do I know if a child is eligible for P-EBT benefits?
Spring 2020: If a child was eligible for free and reduced-price meals as of 4/29/20 as determined by the school, they are eligible for P-EBT benefits.

August & September P-EBT:  If a child id eligible for free and reduced-price meals, as determined by the school, and has a virtual/remote learning period lasting at least 5 consecutive days and the school district provided the child's information.

Do I have to apply for this program?
No, you do not need to apply. ODJFS obtained a list of all Ohio children eligible for free and reduced-price meals, and will issue the benefits through the EBT vendor. County agencies will not be processing any applications for this program.

How will my child receive these benefits?
If an eligible child is currently NOT in receipt of SNAP, the P-EBT benefits will be issued on a special P-EBT card in the child’s name and mailed to the family, which they can then use to buy food at local grocery stores. The card will be in the child’s name, not the parent or guardian’s name. An example of the P-EBT card can be found here.

My child is already receiving SNAP. How will my child receive these new P-EBT benefits?
If an eligible child is currently in receipt of SNAP, the P-EBT benefits will be issued directly to the existing account and will be available on their SNAP EBT card. If the child cannot be matched to an existing account, a P-EBT card will be mailed to the family in the child’s name. If the child has previously been on SNAP, but is not currently, he or she will receive a P-EBT card.

When will PEBT benefits be available on the SNAP EBT or special P-EBT card?
Spring 2020: The P-EBT benefits will be available in SNAP accounts (for children currently on SNAP) by the end of May 2020. P-EBT cards will also be mailed to non-SNAP families at this time. An example of the P-EBT card can be found here.

August & September P-EBT:  If a child can be matched to an existing SNAP account, the benefit will be available in that account in late September.  All other children will receive a new P-EBT card by mid-October.  The old card will still be active and can be used if there is a balance.

I have more than one eligible child. Will the benefits be on one or separate cards?
Each child will receive a P-EBT card; benefits of siblings will not be grouped onto one card.

How do I activate the P-EBT card?  

The family needs to take the following steps:  

  1. Call the phone number on the back of the card.
  2. The family will need the EBT card number on the front of the card, and date of birth of the child named on the card.
  3. The family will need to enter the four digits of the year of the child’s birth (e.g. 1980) for the last 4 digits of the child’s Social Security Number, when prompted.

You will need to set a new four-digit PIN number to use the card  

How long will a family have access to the P-EBT benefits on the card?
The P-EBT benefits will be available for 12 months. If after 12 months, the P-EBT benefits have not been spent, they will be removed (expunged) from the account. Current SNAP households will still have access to their remaining SNAP benefits.

Do I have to accept the card and use it?
No, your participation in the program is voluntary. If you choose not to participate, please dispose of your card by cutting through the magnetic stripe on the card and discard the card in a secure manner. You cannot transfer the card to someone else.

How often will this benefit be issued?
The Federal Guidance at this time is that this will be a one-time issuance for the number of days the child will be out of school.

My school doesn’t close until June but the benefit calculates to the end of May. Shouldn’t I receive money for the days in June my child is out?
No, the state of Ohio determined the average close date for all schools in Ohio and used that date for all children.

How do I know whether or not a child was eligible for free and reduced-price meals?
Contact your local school district to find out whether your child was eligible.

For questions regarding P-EBT, please contact the ODJFS customer service line at 1-866-244-0071.  

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