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Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program

View the Department of Education Pandemic EBT flyer

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Louisiana Reopens 2019-2020 P-EBT Application for Families Who Did Not Apply in May and June

Families Who Received P-EBT during the May-June Application Period are NOT Eligible

The P-EBT program provides help buying groceries for the families of children who were receiving free and reduced-price meals at school last school year.

These one-time benefits are $285 per eligible child.  This covers 50 school days missed from statewide school closures during the pandemic.

Some parents became eligible for free and reduced lunch in May 2020. They would receive $91.20 per eligible child, which covers the cost of meals for 16 school days in May.

The initial PEBT application period closed on June 15, 2020, and served 407,800 children. This second application period is aimed at the 264,111 children who qualified but did not receive PEBT the first time. 

Please Note
Eligible families who did not apply for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program in May and June can take advantage of the second application window that opens September 8 at 8 a.m. and closes September 29 at 5 p.m. Please note, to successfully apply, the information entered in the application must match the information in school records for the children (names, dates of birth, schools, etc.).
P-EBT is NOT SNAP. It is an education-related food benefit. Any eligibility for a regular SNAP program is not tied to this program.
P-EBT is NOT DSNAP and is NOT related to Hurricane Laura. Any eligibility for a Hurricane Laura benefits is not tied to this program.

requirements

Eligibility

Eligible Families:

  • Families of children who received free or reduced-price meals in the school year that ended May 2020 from the National Free Lunch Program
  • This includes those who attended a Community Eligibility Provision school last school year where all children received free and reduced-price meals regardless of income.

Families NOT Eligible:

  • Those who did not receive free or reduced-price meals in the school year that ended May 2020 from the National Free Lunch Program are NOT eligible.
  • Families of children who received P-EBT benefits in the initial application period (May 18 to June 15, 2020). 

apply

How to Apply for P-EBT

The online application period runs from 8 a.m. September 8 to 5 p.m. September 29. 


faq

P-EBT Program - Frequently Asked Questions


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General Information

What is P-EBT?

It's an acronym for Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer. P-EBT is the means for issuing benefits provided by the Department of Children and Family Services in conjuction with the state Department of Education.

Who created P-EBT? Who runs it?  What's the purpose of P-EBT?

The P-EBT program was authorized by Congress in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020. The Louisiana Department of Education and the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services are partnering to provide offer the program to Louisiana's eligible students. P-EBT provides benefits to households with children who temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to pandemic-related school closures during the 2019-2020 school year.

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

P-EBT is not SNAP. Any eligibility for P-EBT is not related to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).

However, P-EBT benefits are issued on an EBT card to buy food like SNAP benefits are issued.

Unlike SNAP, the P-EBT application process is not at all tied to income, only to whether the child received free and reduced lunch in 2019-2020. The money on the card is specifically intended to replace meals that a student would have received for free or at a reduced price at school.


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Eligibility

Who is eligible for P-EBT benefits?

Households are potentially eligible for this second opening of P-EBT if they meet these four conditions:

  • They include a child who was enrolled in a school that participated in the National School Lunch Program in grades pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2019-20 school year (ending May 2020).
  • The child was actually deemed eligible for free or reduced-price school meals or attended a Community Eligibility Provision school that provided these meals to all students regardless of an individual student’s household income. See list of Community Eligibility Provision schools.
  • The child’s school was closed due to the pandemic for at least five consecutive days.
  • They did not receive P-EBT benefits when offered in the initial application period (May 18-June 15, 2020).

I received P-EBT once already. Is this a second round of funding for me?

No. This is the second opening for the initial P-EBT application for the 2019-20 school year. Its goal is to reach families that were eligible but failed to take advantage of the program in the initial application period. There are no additional P-EBT funds for the 2020-21 school year, and there is no second round of funding for families at this time.

Are students eligible if they attend charter schools, Roman Catholic schools or other non-public schools?

If the school participated in the National School Lunch Program and if the child was deemed eligible to receive free or reduced-price meal at the school and the school closed for at least five consecutive days because of the pandemic, yes. See more information below about applying for P-EBT for a child that attended one of these schools.

Are students of virtual schools such as Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy eligible for P-EBT?

No. Virtual schools do not offer free or reduced-price meals, so they are not eligible for P-EBT.

Are students in Head Start eligible?

No. The only pre-K-12 students eligible for P-EBT are those whose schools participate in the National School Lunch or Breakfast programs. Most Head Start students participate in the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which is not included in the P-EBT program. Visit the USDA Food and Nutrition Service P-EBT guidance to find out more about the structure of the federal P-EBT program: https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/state-guidance-coronavirus-pandemic-ebt-pebt

Are home-schooled children eligible?

No.

My child's school provided discounted breakfast and lunch to all students - even those who don't meet federal income guidelines. Does this mean my family qualifies for P-EBT?

Yes. Community Eligibility Provision schools provide free or reduced-price meals to all students regardless of an individual student’s household income. (See list.) All students at these schools are eligible to apply for P-EBT. Please apply at this link.

My child was not receiving free or reduced-price meals when school closed, but I think we would qualify for it now. How do we apply?

It is too late to qualify for last year’s program since that school year is over. The National School Lunch and Breakfast programs is a great program to help feed students. If you believe you qualify, we highly recommend that you apply for it, even though it will not allow you to become eligible for this P-EBT program. 

My household has no children. Can we get P-EBT?

No. See 'Who Is Eligible for P-EBT Benefits?' above for more information.

Does it matter if my household already receives SNAP?

It doesn’t matter if your household already receives SNAP for this program.  P-EBT is not SNAP. Any eligibility for P-EBT is not related to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).  However, P-EBT benefits are issued on an EBT card to buy food like SNAP benefits are issued.

Unlike SNAP, the P-EBT application process is not at all tied to income, only to whether the child received free and reduced lunch in 2019-2020. The money on the card is specifically intended to replace meals that a student would have received for free or at a reduced price at school.

If I already receive SNAP, will P-EBT alter my SNAP benefits?

No. If you already receive SNAP, P-EBT will not alter your SNAP benefits.
P-EBT is not SNAP. Any eligibility for P-EBT is not related to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).

However, P-EBT benefits are issued on an EBT card to buy food like SNAP benefits are issued.

Unlike SNAP, the P-EBT application process is not at all tied to income, only to whether the child received free and reduced lunch in 2019-2020. The money on the card is specifically intended to replace meals that a student would have received for free or at a reduced price at school.

How will I find out if I am eligible for P-EBT?

You can check with your school to see if you were eligible for Free and Reduced lunch for the 2019-20 school year or visit the P-EBT portal on the Louisiana Department of Education website to complete the application there.

Official notice of P-EBT eligibility will be provided at the time of application. Once you complete your application in the portal, the computer system will notify you that you have successfully submitted it. That means the information you supplied matches the child's information in the school records and that the child is eligible for P-EBT. We will then verify that no other person has applied in the name of the same child. If not, you are approved for P-EBT.

I think I'm eligible but I did not receive notification from my school system. How can I get the benefits?

You can check with your school to see if you were eligible for Free and Reduced lunch for last school year or visit the P-EBT portal on the Louisiana Department of Education website to complete the application there.  Only those eligible will be able to successfully apply. 

What if my children still received meals from their schools even when they were closed for the pandemic?

Whether schools did or did not provide meals during school closure last year does not matter for the PEBT program.  Many Louisiana public schools provided emergency or “grab and go” meals to children regardless of enrollment, family size or income.


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Application

What happens after I receive notice from the local school system?

After receiving notification, families may apply for the benefits by visiting the P-EBT portal  on the Louisiana Department of Education website. Eligible families who did not apply for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program from May 18 through June 15, 2020, can take advantage of the second application window that opens September 8 at 8 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. in September 29.

Please note to successfully apply, applicants must enter information the exact same as the school has for the children (names, dates of birth, schools, etc.).

Is the portal open all day every day?

P-EBT portal on the Louisiana Department of Education website will be open 24 hours 7 days/week from 8 a.m. September 8 to 5 p.m. September 29. Due to federal regulations and processing times, there will be no extensions to the application period.

Will I receive confirmation that my application was received? How do I know if I'm approved?

If you provide an email address during your application, you will receive an email confirmation of your application. 

Otherwise, once you complete your application in the portal, you will see a confirmation message on your screen, telling you that you successfully applied. That means the information you supplied matches the child's information in the school records and that the child is eligible for P-EBT.

After receiving your application we'll verify that no other person has applied for the same child. If not, you are approved for P-EBT. There will be no additional notice before your P-EBT card arrives in the mail.

Are Social Security numbers required in the application?

Social Security numbers are not required on the P-EBT application. However, the processing of your application will likely be quicker if you provide Social Security numbers for the parent and each eligible student. Also, the parent’s Social Security number is used to create the personal identification number (PIN) you will need to activate your P-EBT card and access your benefits.

The online application doesn't seem to be working. What can I do?

Your device and our computer system might not be compatible. We suggest switching to another Internet browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. You might also try using a computer if one is available, instead of a phone. It’s also important to ensure you have a strong, secure internet connection. 

I'm having trouble finding my child's school in the drop-down menu of the application.

If you are having trouble locating your school on the drop-down, look under the school district list - not the school list - for the school name or the charter operator. If your child attends a Roman Catholic school, look under the school district list for the appropriate archdiocese and then select the school. Alternatively, you can visit LouisianaSchools.com to identify a charter operator if your student attends a charter school.

I tried to apply on the portal but received an ineligible message.

Your information and that of your child must exactly match the information in your local school’s records. Please contact your local school or school system for the exact information and try to apply again.

My ex-spouse and I share custody of our child. Do we each get a P-EBT card for the child?

No. Only one parent should apply. If approved, that parent will receive the P-EBT card. If both parents applied, the one who applied first will be approved and receive the card.

What if I'm not approved for P-EBT but want to appeal the decision?

Families should check with their local school system to ensure their application for free or reduced-price meals was approved. If not approved, families may follow the appeals instructions provided in the original meals application.


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Benefits

How much P-EBT money do eligible families receive?

The amount is $285 per eligible child. That’s $5.70 for each of the 50 days that school was closed from March 16 through May 22. Parents who applied for free or reduced-price meals after the P-EBT program was announced will receive $91.20/child, which covers the cost of meals for the 16 school days in May.

Is the benefit a one-time payment?

Yes. It covers the cost of breakfast and lunch that students would have received at school in the 50 days schools were closed due to the pandemic.

Is the benefit retroactive to the beginning of school closures? Does it cover all meals to the end of the school year?

Yes, P-EBT covers school meals missed since March 16, the first day that schools closed for the pandemic, through May 22, for a total of 50 school days.

 When will benefits be available on cards?

Eligible applicants can expect to receive cards by mail within 30 days of their application. The cards will already have benefits loaded, and applicants will have to activate their cards to access the benefits.

How long do P-EBT recipients have to use the benefit?

Households may access all benefits on the card for 365 days.


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P-EBT Cards

How long will it take to get my card?

Applicants can expect to receive their cards within 30 days of application.

How do I activate my card?

Call the phone number on the back of the card (1-888-997-1117). You will need the EBT card number on the front of the card, the last 4 digits of the SSN, and the date of birth of the parent or guardian named on the card. You will need to set a four-digit PIN number.

I already have a SNAP card. Will I receive a separate card for P-EBT?

Yes, if your household is eligible. P-EBT is a separate program and will be issued on a separate card.

How do I use my P-EBT card?

Once activated, the card can be used to purchase eligible food items anywhere SNAP/EBT cards are accepted. While the card is in the name of a parent or guardian in the home, the parent or guardian does not need to be present when using the card. You will need to use the PIN number you created when activating the card. The card can be used in the point of sale device, just like a debit card or can be handed to the cashier.

Where can I use a P-EBT card?

The P-EBT card can be used at any retailer that accepts SNAP benefits. Locate a SNAP retailer with this interactive tool.

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

No. Online shopping is not allowed for Louisiana P-EBT benefits.

What can I buy with P-EBT benefits?

Eligible items are household foods such as fruits and vegetables; meat, poultry and fish; dairy products; breads and cereals; snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages; and seeds and plants that produce food for the household to eat.

Ineligible: Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes and tobacco; vitamins, medicines and supplements (if an item has a “supplement facts” label, it is not eligible for P-EBT purchase; live animals (except shellfish, fish removed from water and animals slaughtered before pick-up from the store); prepared foods that are fit for immediate consumption; hot foods; pet foods; cleaning supplies, paper products and other household supplies; hygiene items and cosmetics.

How do I check my balance?

Call the EBT customer service number on the back of the card (1-888-997-1117).

May I give my card to another person to buy food?

Yes.

I received a P-EBT card but don’t want to receive the benefits. What do I do?

Please cut the P-EBT card in half and dispose of it.

If I cut up the card and do not use the benefits, what happens to the money that I did not spend?

After 365 days, the benefits will be erased from the card and the money will revert to the federal treasury.


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Additional Information

For more information, families can contact the LAHelpU Call Center at 1-888-524-3578. The hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. M-F.