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P-EBT Louisiana - Guidance for Schools


info

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.


application

Application

 

Do parents/caregivers need to apply for P-EBT?

No, there is no application for P-EBT for 2020-21, regardless of whether parents/caregivers received P-EBT before or not. Schools will provide a list of students meeting the eligibility criteria (see next question) 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 will parents know their child has been approved for benefits? Will they receive communication prior to receiving a P-EBT card?

DCFS and the Louisiana Department of Education are working with 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. Flyers will be mailed to eligible students’ families informing them that all necessary information has been provided and that they can expect to receive P-EBT cards within 30 days of the flyer being received. All questions about students' eligibility or benefit level are being directed to the school districts.


eligibility

Eligibility

 

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.

What does it mean for a student to be "virtual" or "hybrid"?

A hybrid student attends school both in-person and virtually during the month. A virtual student attends school virtually for more than half the month.

To assist in determining whether students are hybrid or virtual, a recommendation chart is located within the student-level data spreadsheet.

Are homebound students (medical necessity, 100% virtual) eligible for P-EBT?

Homebound students will qualify for P-EBT as long as they meet all other eligibility criteria.

Are all students in a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school eligible for P-EBT?

All students in a CEP school are considered to be eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. Those students at a CEP school who are on a virtual (by computer) or hybrid (partially computer-based and partially in person) learning schedule are eligible for P-EBT. Students at a CEP school who are on a fully in-person (100% face-to-face) learning schedule are not eligible for P-EBT. For more information on school eligibility, see our School Eligibility FAQs.

If a student attending a non-CEP school did not submit an application for free or reduced-priced meals for 2020-21 because they were receiving free meals under a waiver, can their free/reduced status from 2019-20 be used?

Yes. Students can be determined eligible for 2020-21 if they were determined eligible for the 2019-20 school year. If they have never applied, they can apply now and might be found eligible for May 2021 forward.

Are Head Start students eligible?

No, Head Starts generally provide meals under a separate federal program and are not eligible for P-EBT. For more information on school eligibility, see our School Eligibility FAQs.

Is there an age requirement for eligibility? Are enrolled high school students ages 18+ eligible if they meet the criteria?

Students are eligible for P-EBT, regardless of age, if they were eligible for free or reduced-price school meals (or attend a CEP school) and on a virtual or hybrid learning schedule.

If our school system offered pick-up meals, does a student’s participation in that meal program affect their eligibility for P-EBT benefits?

No. Students are eligible for P-EBT even if they participated in separate meal programs, such as grab-and-go, SNAP, WIC, etc.

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

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


reporting

Reporting

 

Where can we find a file layout?

All data spreadsheets have been sent to the list of data managers supplied to DCFS by LDE.

Can we resize the columns in the spreadsheet? Can we make other changes?

You can resize the columns, but please don’t rename or add tabs.

Do we need to include all our virtual and hybrid students, or just those who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals?

Only those virtual/hybrid students who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals would be listed on the spreadsheet.

Do we need to submit a separate spreadsheet for each month?

Multiple months can be reported on the same spreadsheet. In that case, students would appear on multiple rows, with the month of benefit issuance in the last column being specific to each particular month.

Can we submit an initial spreadsheet for August through October, then send another file for November through May?

Yes. Data should be submitted as available. We recommend submitting at least August through October now – before May 28.

Do we have a timeline for Summer P-EBT submission?

DCFS will soon be requesting May enrollment data and issuing Summer P-EBT later this summer.

If a student was enrolled briefly in one month, do we include them in that month? What if they enrolled in the last week of the month and were virtual for the majority of that week?

Yes, all eligible students should be listed even if they were enrolled for only part of the month. In that particular case, DCFS would recommend classifying the student as hybrid, but ultimately the learning model is determined by the school.

If a student switched learning models during the year, would we report multiple lines in the file for that student?

Yes. The student will be listed multiple times on the spreadsheet, unless they stayed in the same learning model for the entire year.

If we had a virtual day due to weather, does this count? Or is it only virtual days due to COVID?

P-EBT is for virtual instruction due to COVID.

If a student is quarantined at any point during the year, should we include them as well?

Yes. A student who switches to a virtual learner due to quarantine could be eligible for hybrid or virtual.

If an error is made by the school on whether a student should be classified as “virtual” or “hybrid,” who should be contacted to make the correction?

Prior to issuance run, the school can submit a new spreadsheet including the corrected information. After issuance, you will need to contact DCFS to report the error.

Will the districts face a future audit process to determine if the reported data was accurate?

The USDA FNS will review and approve the overall process of issuing P-EBT.

Do we need to enter the mailing address twice if it’s the same as the home address?

No, but at least Mailing Address must be entered.

What if the student’s address changed after we submitted the file?

Once the P-EBT case has been created and card issued, the parent will need to contact DCFS to report an address change and request a replacement card.

If an eligible child’s family moved out of Louisiana during the 2020-21 school year, can they receive P-EBT and use the benefits in their new state of residence?

Yes. As long as the student attended a Louisiana school during the 2020-21 school year and is eligible for P-EBT (that is, eligible for free or reduced-price school meals and on a virtual or hybrid learning schedule while enrolled in the Louisiana school), they can receive P-EBT for the months they were enrolled in the Louisiana school and use the benefits in another state.

If an eligible child’s family moved overseas, can they use P-EBT benefits there? Should we leave them on the list with their last-known domestic address?

No, P-EBT cards can only be used within the U.S. and its territories.

Will using a student’s local ID allow them to receive duplicate benefits if they switched schools?

P-EBT case creation uses other factors (first, middle, and last name; date of birth; Louisiana state school ID) to avoid duplicate cases.


benefits

Benefits

 

How much will parents/caregivers 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.

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. Parents/caregivers should 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 will parents know their child has been approved for benefits? Will they receive communication prior to receiving a P-EBT card?

DCFS and the Louisiana Department of Education are working with 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. Flyers will be mailed to eligible students’ families informing them that all necessary information has been provided and that they can expect to receive P-EBT cards within 30 days of the flyer being received. All questions about students' eligibility or benefit level are being directed to the school districts.

How will P-EBT benefits be issued? Will they be on SNAP cards? Will they be on P-EBT cards distributed 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: Parents/caregivrs must keep 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.

What can be purchased with P-EBT benefits? Are there restrictions?

P-EBT benefits are intended for the purchase of food and can be used to buy items like breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, and dairy products, as well as seeds and plants that produce food for the household to eat.

P-EBT benefits may NOT be used to buy any of the following: Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco; nonfood items, such as pet foods, soaps, paper products or household supplies; vitamins and medicines; food that will be eaten in the store or hot foods.

For more information, visit USDA's SNAP Eligible Food Items page.

Where can P-EBT benefits be used?

A P-EBT card can be used at any retailer where SNAP EBT cards are accepted. To find participating retailers, visit the SNAP Retailer Locator and enter a street address, city and state, or zip code. Enter a starting location and select a retailer or map point to get details and directions.

Can recipients use a P-EBT card to buy food online?

Online shopping is not currently allowed for Louisiana P-EBT benefits, although Louisiana is working on a plan to make online SNAP purchases possible in the near future.

When do P-EBT benefits expire?

P-EBT benefits are good for 9 months from the date of issuance OR 9 months from the last transaction if the card has been activated/used.

Are P-EBT benefits transferable? Can P-EBT benefits be given away or sold? What if recipients don't want the benefits?

P-EBT benefits are non-transferable. If recipients wish to decline the benefits, they should destroy destroy their cards.

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


card

P-EBT Card

 

How do recipients activate and PIN P-EBT cards?

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

  • Child's 16-digit card number
  • Child's last 4 digits of their Student ID (If no student ID was provided by your child's school, DCFS will use a 4-digit default code that will be sent to recipients.) Recipents must enter the four-digit number when prompted to enter the last four digits of the Social Security Number.
  • Child's date of birth
  • Child's mailing address

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

Will the PIN for the P-EBT card be the student’s entire ID or just the last 4 digits? What if the student’s ID includes only 3 digits? What if they don’t have a student ID number?

The P-EBT card activation number (entered instead of Social Security Number) is the last 4 digits of the student’s ID number. If the ID number includes only 3 digits, please include a leading 0.

If a local student ID number is unavailable for the student, a generic 4-digit number is assigned.

How can recipients check the balance on P-EBT cards?

Recipients must call 1-888-997-1117 and follow the prompts to check balances. Recipients cannot check the balance on a card until it has been activated. Before activation, the card balance will appear to be $0. For activation instructions, see question above.

Should recipients keep their P-EBT cards after using the benefits?

Yes, parents/caregivers should keep the card, as any additional P-EBT benefits for which the child is eligible will be loaded onto the same card.


questions

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