With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress took swift action to address concerns for children who receive free or reduced school meals during their school day. Through the CARES Act, Congress created Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer, or known as P-EBT. This allows for eligible families to receive up to $5.70, the value of both school breakfast and lunch, onto a card. This program is modeled after the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) where recipients can receive financial assistance for purchasing food.
SNAP is one of the most effective programs that our federal government runs. For every SNAP dollar spent, an estimated $1.54 goes into the local economy. SNAP serves as an “automatic stabilizer for the economy”. It fluctuates depending on the needs of the economy. If there is an economic downturn, much like during The Great Recession, the program allows more families in need to access the program. As those families spend their SNAP dollars, income is “generated for those involved in producing, transporting, and marketing the food and other goods purchased by SNAP recipients”1.
P-EBT uses the same distribution method and can be used to purchase the same food items. The purpose of P-EBT is to provide additional assistance to food insecure families during the pandemic where their child would typically receive breakfast and lunch at school. This is different from disaster SNAP (D-SNAP), which offers emergency food benefits to applicants who are not currently receiving food benefits through regular SNAP and/or are victims of hurricanes or other types of disasters. Learn more about D-SNAP here: Florida Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
On May 27th, the state of Florida was approved to administer P-EBT after submitting their plan of action to USDA. Eligible families will receive a one-time benefit of $5.70 per day (55 days) and per child. Here’s how to find out if you are eligible to receive P-EBT for your child:
- I am already receiving SNAP benefits and have school aged child(ren).
- Then you will get benefits added directly to your EBT card. No need to call or do any paperwork
- I am not on SNAP, but my child does get a free or reduced school meal.
- In late May or early June, you will receive a letter in the mail notifying you that you are eligible. If you need P-EBT benefits then follow the instructions on the letter and once you have you will be mailed your P-EBT card.
- What if I have a school age child who is receiving free or reduced-price school meals and did not receive the P-EBT benefit?
- If you have not received your benefit by June 30, 2020, please call 1-833-311-0321.
- My child did not start receiving free or reduced school meals until after March 16, 2020, are they eligible?
- You will receive a pro-rated amount based on the month of eligibility. Please call 1-833-311-0321 to find out more information.
- I am not on SNAP but would like to apply and need help.
- Call Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida’s SNAP benefit hotline to receive help filling out your application: 407-295-2777.
For more FAQs about Florida P-EBT, here is guidance from the Florida Department of Children and Families: P-EBT Frequently Asked Questions
Call to Action: Help make sure that families and kids have enough food on their tables during this economic downturn. Join us in telling our Senators to vote yes on increase SNAP benefits by 15%.
1. The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, “Quantifying the Impact of SNAP Benefits on the U.S. Economy and Jobs”. https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2019/july/quantifying-the-impact-of-snap-benefits-on-the-us-economy-and-jobs/