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Frequently Asked Questions for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Food Benefits

Answers to many commonly asked questions about the P-EBT food benefits for New York State residents:

What are P-EBT food benefits?

The Continuing Appropriations Act of 2021 and Other Extensions Act reauthorized the payment of P-EBT food benefits to households with children who would have received free school lunches under the National School Lunch Act, if not for a reduction in in-person learning due to the pandemic. These temporary food benefits are being provided to help cover the cost of meals children would have otherwise received at school during the 2020-21 academic year.

P-EBT food benefits are not SNAP benefits. They can only be used to purchase the same food items that can be purchased with SNAP benefits. A list of food items that may be purchased with food benefits can be found at http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligible-food-items/.

Are my child/children eligible for P-EBT food benefits?

Children who receive free school lunches through the National School Lunch Program are eligible for P-EBT food benefits if their school has been operating with reduced in-person attendance due to COVID-19 during the 2020-21 school year. This includes children who attend Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools and any private, prekindergarten, parochial and charter schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program. Please contact your child/children’s school or school district with questions concerning their participation in the National School Lunch Program.

You do not (and cannot) apply for P-EBT food benefits. P-EBT food benefits will automatically be issued to eligible children.

How much will my child/children receive in P-EBT food benefits?

Eligible children will receive P-EBT food benefits based on the number of days their school has reported that it was closed, or that in-person attendance was reduced due to COVID-19. There are two different amounts that an eligible child may receive:

  • Children whose schools reported that their in-person school attendance was reduced by 1 to 12 days during a month, will receive $82 in P-EBT food benefits for that month.
  • Children whose schools reported that their in-person school attendance was reduced for more than 12 days during a month, will receive $132 in P-EBT food benefits for that month
  • Children whose schools reported that their in-person attendance was not reduced during a month due to COVID will not receive a benefit for that month.

Please note, the P-EBT food benefit amount that eligible children receive is based on the availability of monthly in-person school attendance information provided by schools and school districts.

How will I receive P-EBT food benefits for my qualified child/children?
  • Eligible children currently receiving SNAP or Temporary Assistance (cash) will have their P- EBT food benefits issued to their household’s EBT card.
  • Eligible children who are currently enrolled in Medicaid and successfully accessed and redeemed their P-EBT food benefits for the 2019-20 school year on a NYS Medicaid card will receive their P-EBT food benefits for the 2020-21 school year on the same NYS Medicaid card.
  • Eligible children who successfully accessed their food benefits for the 2019-20 school year on a P-EBT Food Benefit card will receive their food benefits for the 2020-21 school year on the same P-EBT Food Benefit card.
  • All other eligible children will be mailed a P-EBT Food Benefit card with instructions explaining how to activate the card and access the food benefits.

If the NYS Medicaid card or P-EBT Food Benefit card you used to access your child’s P-EBT food benefits for the 2019-20 school year has been lost, stolen or damaged, the information below explains how you can order a replacement card.

IMPORTANT: Please be sure to hold on to your EBT card, NYS Medicaid card or P-EBT Food Benefit card in the event that additional P-EBT food benefits are issued to your child in the future.

When will my qualified child/children receive the P-EBT food benefits?
  • New York State continues to distribute Pandemic EBT food benefits to all households with eligible children. Nearly all eligible children throughout the State, who had their in-person attendance reduced during the 2020-2021 school year due to the pandemic, have been issued their P-EBT food benefits. You can check your family’s P-EBT food benefit transaction history by visiting www.connectebt.com or by calling 1-888-328-6399.
  • OTDA has begun distributing Summer P-EBT food benefits, which provides all eligible students with $375 in food benefits. Information about benefit distribution dates will be posted on OTDA's website at otda.ny.gov/SNAP-COVID-19/ as they become available.

IMPORTANT: Please be sure to hold on to your EBT card, NYS Medicaid card or P-EBT Food Benefit card in the event that additional P-EBT food benefits are issued to your child in the future.

How do I access the P-EBT food benefits if they are on a P-EBT Food Benefit card?

To access your P-EBT food benefits using a P-EBT Food Benefit card, you must have a Personal Identification Number (PIN). It is important that you follow the directions for selecting a PIN to be able to access your food benefits.

  • You can select one over the phone by calling 1-888-328-6399. Please be prepared to provide security information, including your zip code and the month and day of the cardholder’s birthday (MM/DD), to complete this process.
    P-EBT card example
    Example of a P-EBT card. All P-EBT cards will have an ID number that starts with the letter "I". All P-EBT cards will have a 01/01/1900 DOB.
  • For detailed instructions on how to select a PIN for your P-EBT Food Benefit card view the Activating a P-EBT 2020 Food Benefit video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvWV-FvyA5Y&feature=youtu.be
  • For written instructions on how to select a PIN for your P-EBT Food Benefit card visit: https://otda.ny.gov/SNAP-COVID-19/P-EBT-Card-PIN-Instructions.asp

IMPORTANT: Please be sure to hold on to your P-EBT Food Benefit card in the event that additional P-EBT food benefits are issued to your child in the future.

How do I order a replacement P-EBT Food Benefit card?

Important: Replacement P-EBT Food Benefit cards should only be requested when the previously issued card has been lost, stolen or damaged. Food benefits will be issued as monthly in-person school attendance information provided by schools and school districts is reviewed and processed. Ordering a replacement card will not result in receiving your child(ren)’s P-EBT food benefits faster and, in some cases, may delay access to your child(ren)’s benefits.

  • You can order a replacement P-EBT Food Benefit card by calling 1-888-328-6399. Please be prepared to provide security information, including the 19-digit card number that was printed on the front of the P-EBT Food Benefit card you are replacing.
    • If you do not have that number, you will be asked for the cardholder’s Social Security number; however, when ordering a replacement P-EBT Food Benefit card (and only when ordering a P-EBT Food Benefit card), you must enter 999-99 and then the 2-digit month and 2-digit day (MM/DD) of the cardholder’s birthday.
      For example, if your child’s date of birth is July 4, you would enter 999-99-0704 when asked for the child’s Social Security number.
  • You will then be asked to verify the cardholder’s 8-digit birthday (MM/DD/YYYY) and to enter the 4-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) you selected for the P-EBT food benefit card that you are replacing. If you did not previously create a PIN, you will still be able to order a replacement card by following the prompts.

Please note that P-EBT food benefits will remain available and accessible on your P-EBT Food Benefit card for at least 274 days from the date they were issued. Once you have set up a PIN to access your P-EBT food benefits, you can check your family’s P-EBT food benefit balance by visiting www.connectebt.com or by calling 1-888-328-6399.

How do I access the P-EBT food benefits if they are on a NYS Medicaid card?

To access your P-EBT food benefits using your NYS Medicaid card, you must have a Personal Identification Number (PIN).

  • If you do not already have a PIN, you can select one over the phone by calling 1-888-328-6399. Please be prepared to provide security information, including your zip code and the last four digits of the cardholder’s Social Security number, to complete this process.

IMPORTANT: Please be sure to hold on to your NYS Medicaid card in the event that additional P-EBT food benefits are issued to your child in the future.

How do I order a replacement NYS Medicaid Card?
  • If the cardholder receives Medicaid through your local department of social services, you can order a replacement NYS Medicaid Card by calling 1-888-328-6399. Please be prepared to provide security information, including the cardholder’s date of birth and Social Security number.
  • If the cardholder receives Medicaid through the New York State of Health: Health Plan Marketplace, you can order a replacement NYS Medicaid card by calling 1-855-355-5777. Please be prepared to provide security information, including the account holder’s name, Social Security number, account number or health care exchange identification number.

Please note that P-EBT food benefits will remain available and accessible on your NYS Medicaid card for at least 274 days from the date they were issued. Once you have set up a PIN to access your P-EBT food benefits, you can check your family’s P-EBT food benefit balance by visiting www.connectebt.com or by calling 1-888-328-6399.

How do I use an EBT card (NYS Medicaid card or P-EBT Food Benefit card)?

An EBT card looks and is used like a bank debit card to buy food at authorized retail food stores. For more information on how to use an EBT card visit: http://otda.ny.gov/workingfamilies/ebt/.

To find authorized retail food stores near you, the SNAP Retailer Locator can be found at https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/retailer-locator.

What can I purchase with my child/children’s P-EBT food benefits?

While P-EBT food benefits are not SNAP benefits, they can only be used to purchase the same food items that can be purchased with SNAP benefits at authorized retail food stores. A detailed list of food items that may be purchased with food benefits can be found at http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligible-food-items/.

Will I need to pay back my child/children’s P-EBT food benefits?

No. Families who receive P-EBT food benefits will not have to pay back the benefits.

Do I have to use my child/children’s P-EBT food benefits right away?

No. P-EBT food benefits will remain available and accessible on your NYS Medicaid card or P-EBT Food Benefit card for at least 274 days from the date they are issued. You can check your family’s P-EBT food benefit balance by visiting www.connectebt.com or by calling 1-888-328-6399.

Will receiving P-EBT food benefits impact my family’s ‘public charge’ status?

Receiving P-EBT food benefits will not affect the ‘public charge’ status for non-citizen households.

Should I contact my local department of social services if I have questions about P-EBT food benefits?

No. P-EBT food benefits are being issued by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. They are not SNAP benefits, and your local department of social services has no information about your eligibility for these benefits, and no information about when you will receive these benefits if you are eligible.

Do my homeschooled child/children qualify for P-EBT food benefits?

Only children who receive free lunch at school are eligible for P-EBT food benefits. Households with homeschooled children do not usually receive free school lunches and therefore are not eligible for P-EBT food benefits. Homeschooling is not the same as attending school remotely. Please contact your school district with questions concerning access to the National School Lunch Program.

What if I get P-EBT food benefits for my children but do not want or need the benefits? Can I give them to somebody who does need them or donate them to my local food bank?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has advised that P-EBT food benefits are not transferable and cannot be donated. The P-EBT food benefits are intended for you to use to buy food for you and your child[ren]. USDA advises that if you and your family have received a P-EBT Food Benefit card and do not want to use the benefits to buy food, you should dispose of the card by cutting through the magnetic stripe on the card or shredding the card and discarding it in a secure manner. If your child[ren]’s P-EBT food benefits were issued to a NYS Medicaid card do NOT dispose of the card—you are required to keep this card while enrolled in Medicaid.

P-EBT food benefits will remain available and accessible on your NYS Medicaid card or P-EBT Food Benefit card for at least 274 days from the date they are issued.

We appreciate your interest in supporting the nutrition needs of those in your community during these difficult times. In most communities, there are a number of nonprofit organizations that accept donations—including donations of non-perishable food items and/or donations of money they can use to buy food—to help those in your community who do not have enough food. For more information please visit: coronavirus.health.ny.gov/food-pantries

What about P-EBT food benefits for the 2021-22 school year?

New York State has not yet received federal approval to distribute P-EBT food benefits for the 2021-22 school year. Information about P-EBT food benefits for the 2021-22 school year will be posted on OTDA's website at otda.ny.gov/SNAP-COVID-19/ as it becomes available.

Are there other food benefits or programs besides P-EBT food benefits that can help my family?

Yes. If your family does not already receive SNAP, you can see if you are eligible for and apply for SNAP by visiting www.mybenefits.ny.gov.

To locate a food pantry in your area visit coronavirus.health.ny.gov/food-pantries

To find a location where you can pick up free meals for your child/children:

  • Visit the USDA Meals for Kids Site Finder at www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids
  • Text “Food” or “Comida” to 877-877
  • Call the USDA National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (Spanish)
  • Call 211 for New York State Residents
  • Call 311 if you live in New York City
Where do I go if I have questions about P-EBT food benefits?

If you have questions, you may call the P-EBT Food Benefits Helpline: 1-833-452-0096 or visit: P-EBT Information Form to submit a question in writing.

Last updated: May 23, 2022, 8:30 AM

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