Pandemic EBT Approved to Feed Children during COVID-19

Pandemic EBT Approved to Feed Children during COVID-19
Posted on 04/29/2020

On Friday, April 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved California’s application to operate a Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program during COVID-19.

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) will issue P-EBT benefits to households currently receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and to households with children who are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals whose schools were closed for at least five consecutive days during the COVID-19 emergency.

Through the P-EBT program, each eligible child in the household will receive $5.70 per day for each day of the month in which school was cancelled due to COVID-19. The California Department of Education (CDE) and CDSS estimate that this will provide more than $1.4 billion to over 3.8 million school children throughout the state to address food insecurity during this emergency.

The CDE and CDSS have identified children from households that are directly certified to receive Free and Reduced-Price school meals. These households will automatically be mailed their P-EBT card in the coming weeks. Beginning in Mid-May, children from households who were not directly certified for free and reduced-price school meals will be able to apply online for P-EBT.


The CDE and CDSS will provide P-EBT outreach toolkits to school nutrition partners in the coming weeks. The P-EBT outreach toolkit includes sample communications for schools to notify eligible households about the availability of P-EBT. Schools are strongly encouraged to only use these state-provided outreach materials to reduced confusion about this new, time-limited pandemic relief program. Attached is a one page flyer that summarizes the benefits of P-EBT for families.


The CDE and CDSS will host a P-EBT Information Webinar on Thursday, April 30 from 10-11am. During this webinar, we will provide more information about P-EBT, including school districts’ role in helping families access this essential nutritional support. You can register for the webinar here:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Are children who are still receiving school meals through COVID-19 emergency feeding sites eligible to participate in P-EBT?

Response: Yes. P-EBT benefits are in addition to, not in lieu of, free and reduced-price meal benefits. Children who receive P-EBT may still continue to receive meals at COVID-19 emergency sites.

  1. Does a child’s immigration status impact their ability to participate in P-EBT?

Response: No, P-EBT is a program that is affiliated with free and reduced-price meal eligibility. Similar to school meal programs, there are no restrictions by immigration status associated with P-EBT. P-EBT is not the same as CalFresh or Food Stamps.

Contact Information

For more information about P-EBT, you may visit the CDSS P-EBT webpage at

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

Thank you.

Nutrition Services Division

California Department of Education

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