Using your Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card to access P-EBT benefits

P-EBT benefits for the 2020-2021 school year have been issued for students receiving free- or reduced-price school meals and attending schools with a remote learning schedule of at least 5 consecutive days. Most families with an existing SNAP Families First EBT card will have already received their benefits on their card. For non-SNAP recipients and certain SNAP recipients, P-EBT cards were mailed October 12. This benefit is not available for students whose school is conducting classes in-person or a hybrid of in-person and remote.   

If you have not received your 2020-2021 P-EBT benefits, you should contact your school to confirm the address they provided. If the address is correct or you have your mail forwarded, please wait for the card to come in the mail. If the address is incorrect, please do not fill out the contact us form, but instead call your local county board of social services for a replacement card.  See FAQs for more information about your benefits.   

There was an error in the telephone number on some P-EBT cards. If you received a card with the incorrect phone number, look for a new card in the mail starting the week of October 26. You can also access your benefits by calling 1-800-997-3333 to activate the card you received. Only share personal information with staff who answer the phone at this number. We apologize for the inconvenience.

What is Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT)?

Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) is a program to help purchase food for your school-aged child(ren) who were eligible for free- or reduced-price school meals, but whose schools went remote due to COVID-19.

P-EBT benefits in the amount of $99.62 per eligible child are being issued for the 2020-2021 school year for the month of September for students receiving free- or reduced-price school meals who are attending schools with a remote learning schedule of at least 5 consecutive days. (This benefit is not available for students whose school are conducting classes in person or a hybrid of in-person and remote.) P-EBT benefits are now available to most families with an existing SNAP Families First EBT card. For non-SNAP recipients and certain SNAP recipients, P-EBT cards will be mailed in October.

Benefits were previously sent for students who received or became eligible for free- or reduced-price school meals for the 2019-2020 school year.  If you have questions about benefits for the last school year see the 2019-2020 School Year Benefits section below.

Who is eligible for P-EBT benefits?

For 2020-2021 school year, students receiving free- or reduced-price school meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) who are attending schools with a remote learning schedule of at least 5 consecutive days are eligible for P-EBT for the month of September. This benefit is not available for students whose school are conducting classes in-person or a hybrid of in-person and remote since those schedules do not meet the definition the federal government has set for the program.

P-EBT benefits are available only if your school participates in the NSLP. Not all schools participate in the NSLP, so you should check with your school if you have questions about their participation.

Do I need to apply for P-EBT?

No, there is no application to receive this benefit. The Department of Human Services worked with schools to identify students who are eligible for free- or reduced-price meals. If your school(s) submitted the information, benefits will be issued to you automatically by mail or, in some instances, on your existing Families First Card, if you receive SNAP

How much will my child receive in benefits for the 2020-2021 school year?

The amount of $99.62, per eligible school-aged child, covers the days schools were remote due to COVID-19 for September 2020 only.  At this time, this is the only P-EBT benefit that is being issued for the 2020-2021 school year. Any benefits past September 30, 2020 are pending federal approval. Please keep the P-EBT card you received in October with your September 2020-2021 benefits in the event that additional benefits are approved.

When will my child receive these benefits?

All benefits for the 2019-2020 school year were already sent to families. If you have questions about benefits for the last school year see the 2019-2020 School Year Benefits section below.

For the 2020-2021 school year, P-EBT benefits will be issued in one of two ways for students whose schools met the federal definition of being closed at least 5 consecutive days:

  • If you are a SNAP recipient and we are able to match information submitted by the school to your SNAP case, P-EBT benefits were added to your existing Families First EBT card on September 25, 2020.
  • If you are not a SNAP recipient or we could not match your child’s information with your SNAP case, a P-EBT card will be sent to the address your school sent us. P-EBT cards will be mailed beginning in October. You can call your school to confirm the address they provided. If your address is incorrect, see the “Why didn’t I receive my P-EBT benefits?” question below. If the address is correct, you should wait for that card to come in the mail. We expect that P-EBT cards will continue to reach families over the course of the next few weeks. If your child is eligible, it is likely that your card is in process or in the mail.

At this time, this is the only P-EBT benefit that is being issued for the 2020-2021 school year. Any benefits past September 30, 2020 are pending federal approval. Please keep the P-EBT card you received in October in the event that additional benefits are approved

My child(ren) attends a private or charter school and receives free- or reduced-price meals. Is my child(ren) eligible for P-EBT?

Yes. Children attending private or charter schools are eligible for P-EBT as long as they were eligible for free- or reduced-price meals and the school participated in the National School Lunch Program. Your school must still provide us with a list of eligible students.

The 2020-2021 P-EBT benefit is only available to students in schools that offer remote learning for at least five consecutive days. It is not available for students whose schools are conducting classes in person or a hybrid of in-person and remote.

My child(ren)’s school participates in school lunch through a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). Is my child(ren) eligible for P-EBT?

Yes.  Students attending schools that participate in Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) are eligible to receive P-EBT. If you received a P-EBT benefit but did not apply for free- or reduced-price meals for your child, you may still be eligible because your child attends a CEP school. You may use the P-EBT benefits.

The 2020-2021 P-EBT benefit is only available to students in schools that offer remote learning for at least five consecutive days. It is not available for students whose schools are conducting classes in person or a hybrid of in-person and remote.

My child(ren) have been getting meals from school. Are they still eligible for P-EBT?

Yes. If your school offers grab-and-go lunches, this does not affect your eligibility for P-EBT or using your P-EBT benefits.

The 2020-2021 P-EBT benefit is only available to students in schools that offer remote learning for at least five consecutive days. It is not available for students whose schools are conducting classes in person or a hybrid of in-person and remote.

Are college students eligible for P-EBT?

No. College students are not eligible for P-EBT.

Are children who are home-schooled or in child care eligible for P-EBT?

No. P-EBT benefits are only for school-aged children receiving free- or reduced-cost meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

My child is a special needs 21-year-old high school student. Is my child(ren) eligible for P-EBT?

If your school approved the student as eligible for free- or reduced-price meals for the 2020-2021 school year and there are no age limitations from the school, then the student would be eligible for P-EBT. Your school must have sent the information to us for you to receive a P-EBT benefit. Please contact your school district to confirm that your child’s information was submitted.

The 2020-2021 P-EBT benefit is only available to students in schools that offer remote learning for at least five consecutive days. It is not available for students whose schools are conducting classes in person or a hybrid of in-person and remote. 

I share custody of my child(ren). Who will get the P-EBT benefits?

That depends on how your school reported your child(ren)’s information. P-EBT benefits will be issued to the parent/guardian listed by the school and at the address provided by your school.

The 2020-2021 P-EBT benefit is only available to students in schools that offer remote learning for at least five consecutive days. It is not available for students whose schools are conducting classes in person or a hybrid of in-person and remote.

Is immigration status considered as part of P-EBT eligibility?

No. Immigration status is not factored into eligibility. If your child was approved to receive free- or reduced-price meals for the 2020-2021 school year, your child is eligible for P-EBT.

The 2020-2021 P-EBT benefit is only available to students in schools that offer remote learning for at least five consecutive days. It is not available for students whose schools are conducting classes in person or a hybrid of in-person and remote.

Will receiving P-EBT food benefits impact my family’s “public charge” status?

Receiving P-EBT food benefits will not affect the “public charge” determination for non-citizen households.

How do I know if my child is receiving a P-EBT benefit?

You can check the balance of your Families First Card to see if P-EBT benefits were added. To check your balance, you can:

  • Go to NJFamiliesFirst.com to create an account to view your current card balance and transaction history; or,
  • Call Customer Service at 1-800-997-3333 to use the automated phone system to get your balance; or,
  • Check your last store receipt.

If you did not receive benefits on your Families First card, you should contact your school district to confirm that your child’s information was submitted. If your school confirms this information, please know that we have it and your benefits are in process.

P-EBT benefits are issued to the Families First EBT card for all children who we are able to verify as SNAP recipients based on the information we receive from the school.

If we cannot confirm your child’s information with your SNAP case, we will mail a P-EBT card to the address your school sent us. You can call your school to confirm the address they provided. If the address is correct, you should wait for that card to come in the mail. You should also confirm the date of birth the school has on record for your oldest eligible child. You will need that date of birth to activate your card.

Why didn’t I get my child(ren)’s P-EBT benefit on my Families First EBT card?

While most families receiving SNAP were issued P-EBT benefits to their existing Families First card, some families will receive their P-EBT cards in the mail.

If you did not receive benefits on your Families First card, contact your school district to confirm that all of your child(ren)’s information was submitted. We continue to mail P-EBT benefits.

If your school did submit your child(ren)’s information, but we were not able to match your child(ren)’s information with your SNAP case, we mailed a P-EBT card to the address your school sent us. You can confirm the address provided with the school. You should wait for that card to come in the mail. If you have mail forwarded to your new address, please allow additional time to receive your P-EBT card in the mail. If the address is incorrect or you do not have mail forwarding, please contact your local county board of social services for a replacement card. You may be asked to verify your identity. There may be a fee for replacement cards.

I only got benefits for one of my children. Where are the benefits for my other children?

The 2020-2021 P-EBT benefit is only available to students in schools that offer remote learning for at least five consecutive days. It is not available for students whose schools are conducting classes in person or a hybrid of in-person and remote. If your children’s schools have different schedules, only your children who are in school with five consecutive days of remote learning will receive a benefit.

If your school did submit your child(ren)’s information, but we were not able to match your child(ren)’s information with your SNAP case, we mailed a P-EBT card to the address your school sent us. You can confirm the address provided with the school. You should wait for that card to come in the mail.

Remember, P-EBT is a benefit for eligible children who were in school for the 2020-2021 school year only.

I received some of my P-EBT benefits on my Families First Card and the rest on a separate P-EBT card. Can I combine all of the P-EBT benefits on my Families First card?

No. If you received multiple cards, you cannot combine the amounts on one card.

What if my SNAP case is now closed?

P-EBT benefits are issued to the Families First card if your SNAP case is active. If you were scheduled to receive the P-EBT benefits on your Families First card, but your SNAP case was closed at the time benefits were issued, we have reissued the benefits onto a P-EBT card. You will receive the P-EBT card in the mail.

Why didn’t I receive my P-EBT benefit?

The 2020-2021 P-EBT benefit is only available to students in schools that offer remote learning for at least five consecutive days. It is not available for students whose schools are conducting classes in person or a hybrid of in-person and remote.

You can confirm the address provided with the school. You should wait for that card to come in the mail. If you have mail forwarded to a new address, please allow additional time to receive your P-EBT card in the mail. If the address is incorrect or you do not have mail forwarding, please contact your local county board of social services for a replacement card. You may be asked to verify your identity. There may be a fee for replacement cards.

I only got benefits for one of my children. Where are the benefits for my other children?

The 2020-2021 P-EBT benefit is only available to students in schools that offer remote learning for at least five consecutive days. It is not available for students whose schools are conducting classes in person or a hybrid of in-person and remote. If your children’s schools have different schedules, only your children who are in school with five consecutive days of remote learning will receive a benefit.

You can confirm the address provided with the school. You should wait for that card to come in the mail.

Remember, for the school year 2020-2021, P-EBT benefits only have been issued for the month of September in the amount of $99.62. Please keep the P-EBT card you received in October in the event that additional benefits are approved.

I received separate P-EBT cards for my children. Can I combine the amounts on one P-EBT card?

No. If you received multiple cards, you cannot combine the amounts on one card. 

If my child(ren) is eligible for P-EBT benefits, are we now automatically eligible for SNAP benefits?

No. If you applied for free- or reduced-price meals directly through your school, it is not an application for SNAP. If you would like screen for eligibility and apply for SNAP benefits, you may do so online at www.njhelps.org.

How do I activate my P-EBT Card?

Instructions on how to activate your card are included in the envelope with your card. If you have any questions, call the number on the back of your P-EBT card (1-800-997-3333). 

I am having trouble activating my card, what should I do?

Your PIN number is your child's date of birth (DOB). Use the two-digit month, two-digit day, and four-digit year (for example: 09012009). If you have more than one child, use the DOB of the child named on that card. If prompted to enter the last four digits of the social security number, enter 0000. If you still have an issue, contact your school to confirm the DOB on file and use that DOB to activate your card. If you need additional assistance, call Customer Service at 1-800-997-3333.

How do I use my card to purchase food?

Your card can be used at any store that accepts SNAP.  Look for the SNAP EBT image at the store or visit the “Using Your Benefits” page for a list of stores that accept SNAP. Benefits can be used to purchase eligible SNAP food items.

At the store:

  • Slide your card through the payment machine.
  • Choose FOOD option.
  • Enter your PIN on the keypad

Benefits also can be used online at Amazon, Walmart, ShopRite and The Fresh Grocer. (Recipients seeking to order from ShopRite or The Fresh Grocer should check with their local stores about online SNAP availability.) Benefits cannot be used to pay for delivery or service fees. Be sure to confirm an online store delivers to your home address before ordering.

Do I have to use my P-EBT benefits right away?

No, you do not have to use all of your P-EBT benefits at one time. However, if you don’t use any P-EBT benefits for six months in a row, unused benefits will be moved off of the card and will not be available.

How do I check my balance on my P-EBT/Families First card?
  • Go to NJFamiliesFirst.com to create an account to view your current card balance and transaction history, as well as report lost or stolen cards; or,
  • Call Customer Service at 1-800-997-3333 to use the automated phone system to get your balance; or,
  • Check your last store receipt.
How do I protect my P-EBT/Families First card and PIN?
  • Don’t share your PIN with anyone.
  • Do not write your PIN on your card or card holder. Also, do not carry the number with you in your purse or wallet.
  • If you cannot find your card or if you think someone knows your PIN, immediately call 1-800-997-3333.
  • Keep your card away from electronic equipment (TVs and microwaves), magnets, and out of the sun.
What do I do if I forgot my PIN?

If you forget your PIN, but haven’t lost your card, you can change your PIN online at www.NJFamiliesFirst.com after you create a user account and log in. Or, you can call Customer Service at 1-800-997-3333.

What if I need a replacement P-EBT/Families First card?

If you need to replace your card, contact your local county board of social services. If your card has been lost, stolen or damaged, it is important to immediately report it online at www.NJFamiliesFirst.com or by calling 1-800-997-3333. This will “freeze” your card so no one can use your benefits. After reporting it, contact your local county board of social services for a replacement card. You may be asked to verify your identity. There may be a fee for replacement cards.

What were benefit amounts for the 2019-2020 school year?

Benefits were previously sent for students who received or became eligible for free- or reduced-price school meals for the 2019-2020 school year. 

The benefit amount you received depended on when you became eligible for free- or reduced-price school meals for the 2019-2020 school year (see chart below for amount). You can only receive one benefit amount for the 2019-2020 school year.

Students who were receiving free- or reduced-price school meals on March 18, 2020 the day schools went remote, were eligible for the full benefit amount. Some school districts continued to determine students eligible for free- or reduced-price school meals after schools went remote. If your child(ren) became eligible after March 18, 2020, you will receive the amount listed below based on the date you were approved.

Approval Date

Benefit Amount

Time Period Benefit Covers

Before March 31, 2020

$416.10

March 19-June 19, 2020

April 1-30, 2020

$330.60

April 1-June 19, 2020

May 1-31, 2020

$205.20

May 1-June 19, 2020

June 1-19, 2020

$85.50

June 1-June 19, 2020

When were benefits issued for the 2019-2020 school year?

If your child(ren) were approved for free- or reduced-price meals before schools went remote on March 18, 2020:

  • Benefits were sent starting in July, either to your existing SNAP Families First card or mailed to you on a new P-EBT card.

If your child(ren) were approved after March 18, 2020, P-EBT benefits will be issued in one of two ways:

  • If you are a SNAP recipient and we are able to match information submitted by the school to your SNAP case, P-EBT benefits were added to your existing Families First EBT card on September 17, 2020.
  • If you are not a SNAP recipient or we could not match your child’s information with your SNAP case, a P-EBT card were sent to the address your school sent us. P-EBT cards were mailed beginning the week of September 21, 2020. You can call your school to confirm the address they provided. If the address is correct, you should wait for that card to come in the mail. We expect that P-EBT cards will continue to reach families over the course of the next few weeks.
My school did not submit my child(ren)’s information and I did not receive P-EBT benefits. Can my child(ren) be added and benefits sent now?

Unfortunately, if we do not have a record of receiving your child(ren)’s information we are not able to add them. P-EBT benefits were issued based on information received by your school. The benefits were part of a federal program which expires September 2020. Unfortunately, we can no longer process student information due to the federal deadline. If you are experiencing food insecurity, please visit www.njsnap.gov to learn more about and apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or additional resources that may be available to you and your family.

What if I do not want to use my P-EBT benefits?

If you are not interested in using the P-EBT benefit, please return the card by mailing it to the address on the back of the card.

I received a P-EBT card in error or got more benefits than I should have. What should I do?

If you received a P-EBT card, but your child does not receive free- or reduced-price school meals and you believe you are not eligible for these benefits, please do not use the card and contact your school to confirm. If you received the card in error, please return it by mailing it to the address on the back of the card. If you received more P-EBT benefits than you should have, please do not use the extra P-EBT benefits. Report the error to your local board of social services.

What does the P-EBT card look like?

NJ-P-EBT Card Front