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

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

Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) is a program to help purchase food for your child(ren) who were eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school before COVID-19 closures. The one-time benefit amount of $416.10, per eligible child, covers the days schools were closed due to COVID-19. Benefits can be used to purchase food items, however; you cannot purchase prepared foods, such as a rotisserie chicken or hot meals.

P-EBT benefits will be released on Wednesday, July 8. That means the majority of eligible families with an EBT card will be able to access the benefit through their Families First card on July 8. All other recipients are expected to receive a P-EBT card in the mail during the week of July 13th.

Do I need to apply for P-EBT?

No. An application is not necessary to receive this benefit. The Department of Human Services is working with schools to identify students who were receiving free or reduced-price school meals as of March 18, 2020.

When will I get my P-EBT benefits?

The majority of Pandemic-EBT eligible families participating in SNAP will receive the benefit on their household’s existing Families First card on July 8.

All other Pandemic-EBT eligible households will be mailed a P-EBT card and should expect to get their card in the mail starting the week of July 13th. Instructions on how to activate the card and start using benefits will also be included.

How do I get my P-EBT benefits?

If your household already receives SNAP benefits, your P-EBT benefits will be added automatically to your Families First EBT card.

If your household does not receive SNAP benefits, an EBT card will be mailed to your house and your benefits will be available when you activate your card.

As long as you use some portion of your benefit each month, the benefits will not expire.

How do I activate my P-EBT card?

Instructions 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.

Why did I only get one card when I have more children in school?

Benefits for families are issued on the same card. If you have more than one child who received free or reduced-price lunch, your card will contain benefits for all eligible children.

How do I use my card to purchase food?

Before you begin shopping, make sure the store accepts the card.  Look for the SNAP EBT image or visit the Using Your Benefits page on for a list of stores that accept SNAP.

  • Tell the clerk that you want to use your card.
  • Slide your card through the machine.
  • Choose FOOD option.
  • Enter your PIN on the keypad.

Benefits can be used online at AmazonWalmartShopRite 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.

Your benefits cannot be given to another person and you cannot sell the items you purchased with your SNAP benefits.

How do I get my balance?

  • Go to to create an account to view your current card balance and transaction history, as well as report lost or stolen cards.
  • Call Customer Service at 1-800-997-3333 to use the automated phone system to get your balance.
  • Check your last store receipt.
  • How do I protect my EBT 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 to do if you forgot your PIN?

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

What if my EBT Card is lost, stolen or damaged?

If your card has been lost, stolen or damaged, it is important to immediately report it online at 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 board of social services for a replacement card. There may be a fee to replace the card.

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

No, immigration status is not factored into eligibility.  If your child was receiving free or reduced-price lunch as of March 18, 2020, he/she should be eligible for P-EBT


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

Receiving P-EBT food benefits will not affect the ‘public charge’ status for non-citizen households.

Additional Information:

If you are not interested in using the P-EBT benefit, please destroy your card or mail it to the address on the back of the card.

What does the P-EBT card look like?

Image: NJ-P-EBT-Card FRONT