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Pandemic EBT Frequently Asked Questions


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The California Department of Education (CDE) and Department of Social Services (CDSS) are partnering on the administration of Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) in California.

P-EBT will provide up to $365 to needy children eligible for Free or Reduced-Price Meals (FRPM) through the National School Lunch (NSLP) or School Breakfast Programs (SBP). Children who are directly certified for FRPM will automatically be mailed a P-EBT card through an automated data matching process between the CDE and CDSS. These P-EBT cards will arrive in the mailboxes of eligible families between May 12 and May 22.

Children who are FRPM eligible through the meal application process will be able to apply for P-EBT online beginning May 22. The application will be available on the Apply for P-EBT website External link opens in new window or tab. and will be available in English, Spanish and Chinese. Eligibility of those children who apply online will be confirmed by the CDE and CDSS using data from the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS).

Outreach

The CDE and CDSS have developed P-EBT outreach materials that are available for download from the CDSS Pandemic EBT web page External link opens in new window or tab..

Outreach materials include an outreach toolkit, informational flyers for families, frequently asked questions documents, sample social media content and additional resources for partner agencies.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does P-EBT work for students attending schools that are providing meals through a Provision such as Community Eligibility Provision or Provision 2?

For the purposes of P-EBT, all students who attend a Provision school are considered eligible for free and reduced-priced school meals.

If a student is directly certified, they do not need to apply for P-EBT and will automatically receive a P-EBT card in the mail. If a student is not directly certified and does not receive a P-EBT card in the mail by about May 22nd, their parent or legal guardian can apply for P-EBT online. The P-EBT online application opens on May 22nd on the Apply for P-EBT website External link opens in new window or tab..

Our district operates Provision 2 for only one meal service. How will P-EBT eligibility be determined for these children?

Because all children in the district receive a free meal through Provision 2, for the purposes of P-EBT, all those children are considered eligible for free and reduced-price school meals and therefore eligible for P-EBT. If a student is directly certified they do not need to apply for P-EBT and will automatically receive a P-EBT card in the mail by about May 22nd. If a student is not directly certified and does not receive a P-EBT card in the mail by about May 22nd, they can apply for P-EBT online. The P-EBT online application opens on May 22nd on the Apply for P-EBT website External link opens in new window or tab..

Will younger siblings of students attending a Provision school be eligible for P-EBT?

Only school-aged children who attend a school that participates in the NSLP or SBP are eligible for P-EBT benefits.

Can school districts continue to process applications for free or reduced-price school meals?

Yes. If a family’s socio-economic status has changed, they may apply for free or reduced-price school meals. If determined eligible, the family may also apply for P-EBT.

If an eligible family completes a paper or online application on or after March 16 (the average date of school closures statewide used for P-EBT purposes), are their children eligible for P-EBT?

Yes. If a family submits a school meal application on or after March 16 and they are determined eligible, this family can apply for and receive P-EBT benefits for their school-aged children.

If a student is determined eligible to receive free or reduced-price school meals through direct certification on or after March 16, is the student eligible for P-EBT?

Yes. If a student is directly certified for free or reduced-price meals on or after March 16, this student will automatically receive P-EBT benefits. The date the P-EBT card arrives in the mail and the amount of P-EBT benefit issued depends on the date the student is directly certified.

How will P-EBT benefits be calculated for a student that was determined eligible for free or reduced-price school meals based on an application at the start of the school year, but was then recently (e.g. on or after March 16) directly certified for free or reduced-price school meals?

In this scenario, the P-EBT eligible family should submit a P-EBT application online. The family will receive the full P-EBT benefit amount of $365 per child.

If a family has a toddler and receives CalFresh, is the toddler eligible for P-EBT?

P-EBT eligibility is based on an individual student’s eligibility for free or reduced-price school meals offered through the SBP or NSLP. Only those children eligible for free or reduced-price school meals and attending a school that participates in the SBP or NSLP are eligible for P-EBT.

Are children who attend kindergarten or preschool eligible for P-EBT?

P-EBT eligibility is based on an individual student’s eligibility for free or reduced-price school meals offered through the SBP or NSLP. Only those children eligible for free or reduced-price school meals and attending a school that participates in the SBP or NSLP are eligible for P-EBT.

Are children participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program eligible for P-EBT?

No. P-EBT eligibility is based on an individual student’s eligibility for free or reduced-price school meals offered through the SBP or NSLP. Only those children eligible for free or reduced-price school meals and attending a school that participates in the SBP or NSLP are eligible for P-EBT.

Do school districts need to take any action to determine P-EBT eligibility, such as confirming families were eligible for free or reduced-price school meals during the school year?

No. School districts are not required to verify eligibility for free or reduced-price school meals.  School districts are asked to assist with outreach to eligible families to ensure that P-EBT benefits reach needy families in their communities.

If a family submits a FRPM application, districts should continue to accept and process applications and update student eligibility information in CALPADS to ensure that eligible children receive P-EBT benefits.

Are students who are experiencing homelessness and receiving free or reduced-price school meals through the McKinney-Vento act eligible for P-EBT?

Yes, these students are directly certified for free school meals and are eligible for P-EBT.  If a student is directly certified they do not need to apply for P-EBT and will automatically receive a P-EBT card in the mail by about May 22nd.

Contact Information

For more information about P-EBT, you may visit the CDSS P-EBT web page External link opens in new window or tab..

For updated information about COVID-19 emergency feeding, please visit the CDE COVID-19 School and Child and Adult Day Care Meals web page. This page is updated each Friday with new information.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Thursday, May 14, 2020
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