COVID-19 Pandemic EBT extension

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued information about the extension of Pandemic EBT (P-EBT).  P-EBT was a food benefit for eligible school aged children for March through June, 2020.  California was approved to issue additional P-EBT benefits for August and September, 2020 to provide nutrition benefits for children who would otherwise receive free or reduced-price school meals if not for COVID-19.

Most children who received P-EBT will receive P-EBT extension benefits.  Children who received P-EBT will receive extension benefits if they are still a California registered student, can be assumed to be attending school via virtual instruction, and are found to be eligible through the State’s data match program.  New P-EBT cards with additional benefits will be automatically mailed to families without the family needing to apply online.

Children who are newly eligible for free or reduced-price school meals for the 2020-21 school year are not eligible for P-EBT extension benefits.  This includes children who just started school for the first time as a preschooler or kindergartner.

There is no standard amount due under the P-EBT extension.  Benefit amounts are based on individual student and school level data.  The amount an individual child is eligible to receive depends on the child’s start date of virtual instruction for the 2020-21 school year. P-EBT extension will be provided based on the school meal reimbursement rate of $5.86 per day for each qualifying day of virtual instruction.  The maximum amount of P-EBT extension benefits is $246.

With the issuance of P-EBT extension benefits, counties will no longer be responsible for providing cardholder support.  The P-EBT Helpline will provide ongoing cardholder support.  During a two-week transition period, counties and the P-EBT Helpline will provide cardholder support simultaneously.  The P-EBT Helpline is (877) 328-9677.  The P-EBT Helpline can assist with PIN set-up and P-EBT card replacement.  The P-EBT Helpline cannot help with children not found in the system.  The time for eligibility appeals has expired.

California has been granted authority, pending federal approval, to provide P-EBT for the 2020-21 school year, including children attending qualifying child care.  That program will be called P-EBT 2.0.  CDSS will provide more information after California’s plan is approved.  (ACWDL, November 2, 2020.)