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FAQs

 

Updates and Announcements

7/19/21 - In anticipation of federal approval of Louisiana’s Summer Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the Louisiana Department of Education are asking parents who qualify for, but do not currently receive, free or reduced-price lunches to apply for those benefits with their schools or school districts by Friday, July 30, 2021. Continued
 
 

 

 

General Information

What is P-EBT?

P-EBT, or Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer, is food assistance for families of school children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or School Breakfast Program (SBP), but are not receiving those meals due to campus closures and/or reduced in-person class schedules related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The P-EBT program was authorized by Congress in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 for the 2019-20 school year and later reauthorized for the 2020-21 school year.

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services and Louisiana Department of Education are partnering to provide the program to Louisiana’s eligible students.

How does P-EBT work? Is P-EBT like SNAP?

P-EBT is not SNAP, and you do not have to be eligible for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) to receive P-EBT. However, P-EBT benefits are issued on an EBT card and used just like SNAP benefits.

Will we get Summer P-EBT?

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has announced that funding is available for P-EBT for families of K-12 students for Summer 2021, and DCFS is working with the Louisiana Department of Education and local school systems to develop a plan to distribute those benefits to eligible families. We do not expect there to be an application process. Summer P-EBT benefits would be distributed automatically to eligible students on the same card they received for the 2020-21 school year. Stay tuned for more information.

 

Application, Address Changes

Do I need to apply for P-EBT? What if I got P-EBT last year?

No, there is no application for P-EBT for 2020-21, regardless of whether you received P-EBT before or not. Schools will provide a list of students meeting the eligibility criteria (see below) to DCFS for purposes of distributing P-EBT benefits to those families. The State will then mail a P-EBT card to each eligible child.

How do I report my child's address change in time to get P-EBT benefits?

All student information and changes must be verified by the child's school. This includes address changes, which must be handled at the school and/or school district level to ensure that the child's card is going to the correct household. If you need to change an address, you must follow your school's or school district's process for submitting and verifying address changes, which may include providing proof of residency forms in person at your child's school. If you need to change an address, you must call the school or school district. Once the school or school district updates the information in the P-EBT system, DCFS will be able to issue benefits and order a P-EBT card for your child. Changing your address will delay the issuance of a new card, but your child will receive their P-EBT benefits. 

Note: P-EBT cards cannot be forwarded. If a card has already been issued to a child and sent to an old address, the old card will be returned to the sender and deactivated.

How will I know my child has been approved for benefits? Will I receive any communication prior to receiving a P-EBT card?

DCFS is working with the Louisiana Department of Education, local school districts and schools to gather information for eligible students. After schools supply information about each student’s eligibility, DCFS will confirm the information and process the student's benefits.

Eligible students’ families can expect to receive a flyer in the mail from DCFS informing them that their school has provided all needed information and that they can expect to receive P-EBT cards within 30 days of the flyer being received.

If you have questions about your child’s eligibility or benefit level, please contact your local school district.

 

Who is eligible? Which schools qualify?

Who is eligible for P-EBT?

A child is eligible for P-EBT for 2020-21 if:

  • The child would be eligible for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and/or School Breakfast Program (SBP) if schools were operating normally (including children who attend Community Eligibility Provision schools where all students are provided free or reduced-price meals); AND
  • The child has not received free or reduced-price meals at the school because the school is closed or has been operating with reduced attendance or hours for at least 5 consecutive days in the current school year. Once the minimum 5 consecutive day threshold is met, children are eligible to receive P-EBT benefits for closures or reductions in hours due to COVID-19. This includes virtual (by computer) and hybrid (partially computer-based and partially in person) learning schedules.

For the 2020-21 school year, each school or district will provide a list of children meeting the above eligibility criteria to DCFS for purposes of distributing P-EBT benefits to those families. 

To check the status of the information that your child’s school has submitted to DCFS, please click here. Schools are color-coded by whether their information has submitted and not processed (yellow), has been submitted and processed (green), has not been submitted (red) or does not have eligible students (grey). If you have questions about your child’s school’s status, please contact the school or the school district. Contact information for schools and school districts can be found here.

Does my child's school qualify for P-EBT?

Please see our School Eligibility FAQs for information about Community Eligibility Provision schools, private schools, virtual schools, homeschools, and other school-related eligibility questions.

Has my child's school submitted information on eligible students to DCFS?

To check the status of the information that your child’s school has submitted to DCFS, please click here. Schools are color-coded by whether their information has submitted and not processed (yellow), has been submitted and processed (green), has not been submitted (red) or does not have eligible students (grey). If you have questions about your child’s school’s status, please contact the school or the school district. Contact information for schools and school districts can be found here.

My child switched learning schedules (from virtual to hybrid or vice versa) during the 2020-21 school year. Will they be counted as virtual or hybrid?

The student’s learning model will be reported for each month, so if they changed schedules, their benefit level will also change for those months. 

We received grab-and-go meals through our school or participated in another meal program. Can we still get P-EBT?

Yes. Participation in grab-and-go or other meal programs (e.g., SNAP, WIC) does not affect a child’s eligibility for P-EBT. If the student is eligible for free or reduced-price school meals and was on a virtual (by computer) or hybrid (partially computer-based and partially in person) learning schedule, they are eligible for P-EBT. 

Does it matter if my household already receives SNAP? Will getting P-EBT impact my SNAP benefits?

It doesn’t matter if your household already receives SNAP for this program. P-EBT is not SNAP, and receiving P-EBT will not alter your SNAP benefits. 

My child attended a Louisiana school during the 2020-21 school year, but we’ve moved to another state now. Can we get P-EBT? Can we use the benefits in our new state?

Yes. As long as the student attended a Louisiana school during the 2020-21 school year and meets the eligibility requirements for P-EBT (eligible for free or reduced-price school meals and on a virtual or hybrid learning schedule at their Louisiana school), you can get P-EBT and use the benefits in your new home state. P-EBT cards can be used in any state in the U.S. or its territories.

Benefits

How much will I get in P-EBT benefits?

Benefit amounts are based on whether a child is in a fully virtual (by computer) or hybrid (partially computer-based and partially in person) learning schedule. Students on a fully virtual learning schedule will receive $120.71 per month, and students on a hybrid schedule will receive $48.23 per month, for each month during the school year. These amounts were calculated based on federal reimbursement rates for school meal programs. 

Each school or district will report the child's learning schedule to DCFS for each month in the school year. If a child's learning schedule changes from one category to another, their benefit amount will change accordingly. 

How was it decided whether a student was “virtual” or “hybrid” for the P-EBT benefits?

A student’s classification as “virtual” or “hybrid” depends on the number of school days in a given month the student attended school via remote instruction (completely by computer) versus face-to-face instruction.

If a student received remote instruction for half or more of the school days in a given month, they should be considered “virtual” for that month. If the student received remote instruction for some but less than half of the school days in a given month, they should be considered “hybrid” for that month.

Students who received face-to-face instruction for all school days in a given month would not be eligible for P-EBT for that month.

School systems are utilizing attendance records/codes and the student’s selected mode of instruction to determine each student’s eligibility.

For questions about your child’s attendance or additional questions about your child’s P-EBT eligibility, please contact your school.

When will P-EBT benefits be issued for the 2020-21 school year?

P-EBT benefits for the 2020-21 school year will be issued in installments over the Summer of 2021. Due to the number of cards being issued, it may take several weeks for you to receive your child’s card. Please be patient and do not request a new card, as that would only cause more delay.

Cards will be issued as DCFS receives information from each school. Therefore, families with more than one child may receive their children’s cards at different times, according to when each child’s school submitted their information. 

How do I report my child's address change in time to get P-EBT benefits?

All student information and changes, including address changes, must be verified by the child's school. If you need to change an address, you should first call the school. This is the fastest way to get the updated information into the P-EBT system. If you are not successful in reaching your child’s school, you can contact the DCFS LAHelpU Customer Contact Center at 1-888-524-3578 and press 9 to speak with a Customer Service Representative. DCFS will contact your child’s school or school district to request information required to confirm your address change. Please know this will take additional time and further delay your receipt of benefits. The quickest way to change an address in the P-EBT system is for you to make the request directly with your child’s school.

How will I know my child has been approved for benefits? Will I receive any communication prior to receiving a P-EBT card?

DCFS is working with the Louisiana Department of Education, local school districts and schools to gather information for eligible students. After schools supply information about each student’s eligibility, DCFS will confirm the information and process the student's benefits.

Eligible students’ families can expect to receive a flyer in the mail from DCFS informing them that their school has provided all needed information and that they can expect to receive P-EBT cards within 30 days of the flyer being received.

If you have questions about your child’s eligibility or benefit level, please contact your local school district.

My child switched learning schedules (from virtual to hybrid or vice versa) during the 2020-21 school year. Will they be counted as virtual or hybrid?

The student’s learning model will be reported for each month, so if they changed schedules, their benefit level will also change for those months. 

How will P-EBT benefits be issued? Will they be on my SNAP card? Will they be on the P-EBT card I got last year?

P-EBT benefits will be issued on a Louisiana Purchase EBT card. A separate card will be issued for each eligible child, and each card will be in the recipient child's name. Each child's card will be mailed to the address provided by the child's school or district. 

P-EBT benefits will NOT be loaded onto SNAP recipients' regular SNAP EBT cards. 

P-EBT benefits for 2020-21 will NOT be loaded onto the same P-EBT cards used for the 2019-20 school year.

IMPORTANT: Please keep your new P-EBT card, as future P-EBT benefits for each eligible child will be loaded to the same card.

Will the P-EBT benefits cover the whole 2020-21 school year?

Yes. P-EBT benefits will be retroactive to Aug. 1, 2020 to cover the whole school year. Each school or district will provide a list of children meeting the eligibility criteria to the State for purposes of distributing P-EBT benefits to eligible families.

Benefits for the 2020-21 school year will be issued in installments over the Summer of 2021.

Are P-EBT benefits transferable? Can I give away or sell my card? What if I don't want the benefits?

P-EBT benefits are non-transferable. If you wish to decline the benefits, please destroy the card.

It is illegal to sell, trade or give away your P-EBT benefits, PIN or Louisiana EBT card; to allow a retailer to buy your food benefits in exchange for cash; and to use someone else's P-EBT benefits or Louisiana EBT card for your household. If you are found guilty of intentional program violations, you will be disqualified from SNAP benefits and will have to pay back any unauthorized P-EBT benefits issued.

Card Activation

How do I activate and PIN my P-EBT card?

To activate and PIN the card, call 1-888-997-1117 and follow the prompts. You will need the following information ready:

  • Your child's 16-digit card number
  • Your child's last 4 digits of their Local Student ID. Enter this four-digit number when prompted to enter the last four digits of the Social Security Number.
  • Your child's date of birth
  • Your child's mailing address

These instructions will also be mailed with the P-EBT card.

NOTE: PINs selected with any of the below patterns are NOT allowed:

  • Identical digits (1111, 2222, 3333, etc.)
  • Consecutive digits (1234, 2345, 3456, etc.)
  • Numbers that start with one or more zeroes (0657, 0051, 0001, etc.)
  • The last four digits of the child's Student ID number
  • The cardholder's birthdate

Where can I find my child's Local Student ID to activate their P-EBT card?

Each school is different, but some key places where your child's Local Student ID might be found are:

  • Student's Report Card
  • Student Grades Portal
  • School ID Card
  • Student’s Login to the Computer
  • Student Library Card
  • Student’s Medical Records Portal
  • Student’s IEP Record

If you cannot find your child's Local Student ID, you will need to contact the school.

All of my information is correct, but I still can’t activate my child’s card. What can I do?

If you’ve entered your child’s 16-digit card number, the last 4 digits of their Student ID, their date of birth and their mailing address ZIP code and still can’t activate your child’s card, here are some questions and troubleshooting tips to consider:

  • Do you have the right student ID? See the question above for places to look for your child’s Local Student ID.
  • Did your child switch schools in the 2020-21 school year? If the Student ID from your child’s current school didn’t work, try the Student ID from the previous school.
  • Is there a letter (i.e. A, B, C) in the last 4 digits of your child’s School ID? Contact DCFS through LAHelpU or Facebook for a code to enter in place of the Student ID.
  • Are you using the P-EBT card that’s associated with the child? All P-EBT card numbers begin with a “99.” Otherwise, all Louisiana Purchase EBT cards look alike. Make sure the card has the child’s name on it, that it’s not an old P-EBT card, or a SNAP or DSNAP card.
  • Did you confirm your child’s information with your school? Some parents have reported the school had an incorrect date of birth for the child. Whatever information was entered into the P-EBT system is what you will need to activate the card!
  • ZIP Code. This should be your mailing address ZIP code, but some parents have found success entering their child's school ZIP code or the ZIP code of their School District/School Board Office.
  • Are you typing too fast? Believe it or not, if all the information is correct, the system still needs you to slow down and enter everything -- one digit at a time. 

How do I check my balance or use my card?