The ABCs of Pandemic EBT
Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) is a federal program to help families buy groceries when students are learning remotely or in a hybrid setting (both at home and in school). This assistance comes through the New Jersey Department of Human Services.
The P-EBT card works like a debit card to purchase groceries anywhere EBT benefits (also known as food stamps) are accepted.
You do not have to apply but your child must be approved to receive free or reduced-price meals at school. So you must complete an application with your school district, if you have not done so already or if your school does not provide free meals to all kids during normal times (CEP schools).
Once issued, eligible New Jersey students and their families will receive money on a new or existing EBT card. If your household is already receiving SNAP (aka food stamps), you should receive the extra benefit automatically on your EBT card. Families not enrolled in SNAP will receive a new card. The latest round of benefits are now being issues for Sept. 2020 through June 2021.
As of August 2021, P-EBT benefits for September 2020 through June 2021 are being issued on an ongoing basis. Benefits will go to students who were eligible for free- or reduced-price school meals last school year and were attending schools with a remote or hybrid learning schedule.
For the most current information, visit DHS’s P-EBT webpage.
Your school district must participate in the National School Lunch Program and your child must be approved to receive free or reduced-price school meals. Even if your district is providing free meals to all students because of the pandemic, you should still complete the application. Contact your school for a school meals application. This does not apply to students in schools that provide free meals for students during normal times (CEP schools).
If your child is already approved to receive free school meals, you should check with your school district to be sure they have the right information for your child (i.e. address, birthdate).
You may also be eligible for SNAP (food stamps). If you are approved for SNAP, you will automatically receive P-EBT once the state starts making those payments, as long as your child is enrolled in your the National School Lunch Program. Being enrolled in SNAP alone does NOT make your child qualified.
Visit njhelps.org to see if you qualify for SNAP and other programs.
Hunger Free New Jersey does not run the P-EBT program so we can only provided limited, general information.
For the most comprehensive and current information about P-EBT, please visit the