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 school-age child(ren) in Kindergarten - 12 grade who were eligible for free or reduced price school meals at a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), but whose schools closed or operated with reduced attendance or hours for five consecutive days due to COVID-19.

 Important Things to Know About P-EBT

  • Your child must be enrolled in free or reduced price school meals under the National School Lunch Program and in a school that was closed or operated with reduced attendance for at least five consecutive days at any point this school year. This includes students in Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Schools.
  • Children under six years old who are receiving SNAP are also eligible if they live in an area where schools were closed or operated in reduced attendance for at least five consecutive days.
  • You don’t need to apply for these benefits. We are working with your child’s school to get information that will help us determine your benefit amount and issue your benefit.
  • There are two benefit amounts: $122.76 per child per month for students attending school fully virtual and $61.38 per child per month for students attending school in hybrid schedules. Students attending school fully in-person or who were not approved for free or reduced price school meals in a school that participates in the NSLP are not eligible.
Who is eligible for P-EBT benefits?

School-Age Students (K-12)
Students in grades K-12 who receive free or reduced price school meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and attend a school that closed or operated with reduced attendance or hours for five consecutive days due to COVID-19 may be eligible for P-EBT.

This benefit is not available to students who attended classes on a full in-person schedule during a given month.

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.

Children Under Six in SNAP Households
If you receive SNAP and have a child(ren) under the age of six, you received a benefit for each month the child(ren) was part of an active SNAP household. Children under six who are not in a SNAP household are not eligible, unless they meet the eligibility requirements for school-age students in grades K-12. Eligibility ends when the child(ren) is no longer on an active SNAP case.

Do I need to apply for P-EBT?

No, there is no application to receive this benefit. If your child is eligible, their information is submitted by their school. Benefits will be issued to you automatically by mail or, in some instances, on your existing Families First EBT card, if you receive SNAP benefits.

How much will my child receive in benefits?

School-Age Students (K-12)
The benefit amount is determined monthly based on your child’s attendance reported by the school for a majority of that month. There are two benefit levels if your child attended school fully virtual or in a hybrid schedule:

Fully virtual  $122.76
Hybrid schedule $61.38

Example: If your child attended school fully virtually in September, they will receive $122.76 for September. If your child then switched to a hybrid schedule for in October, they will receive $61.38 for October. If your child was in-person for the majority of any month, they will not receive a benefit for that month.

Children Under Six in SNAP Households
For each month the child was eligible from October to June, a benefit of $122.76 was added to your Families First EBT card.

What if my child(ren)’s school attendance status changed during the month? How much P-EBT will they get?

The amount of P-EBT your child(ren) will receive is based on your child(ren)’s attendance status for the majority of school days for that month. If the majority was fully virtual, they will receive the fully-virtual benefit amount.  If the majority was hybrid, they will receive the hybrid amount. Your school is responsible for reporting the information correctly.

When will my child receive these benefits?

School-Age Children (K-12)
For SNAP recipients, benefits will be added to your Families First card beginning July 20, 2021 and continue to be processed as information is received from schools.

If you are not a SNAP recipient, a new P-EBT card will be mailed to the address provided by your school starting at the end of July. Please check with your school to see what information was submitted and when.  Cards may take a few weeks to reach your address.  Please keep your card for future benefits.

Children Under Six in SNAP Households
Benefits for the months of October – May were added to your Families First EBT card between June 15 – 25, 2021.  Benefits for the month of June were added to your card on July 13, 2021.

My child(ren) attends an out-of-district school and is eligible for free or reduced price school meals. Is my child(ren) eligible for P-EBT?

If either your home (sending) district or the district where your child(ren) attend school participate in the National School Lunch Program, you child(ren) may be eligible, if they otherwise meet eligibility criteria.

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 are eligible for free or reduced price school meals, the school they attend participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and they otherwise meet eligibility criteria. Your school must still provide a list of eligible students.

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 as long as they otherwise meet eligibility criteria. If you received a P-EBT benefit but did not apply for free or reduced price school meals for your child, you may still be eligible because your child attends a CEP school. You may use the P-EBT benefits.

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

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

Are college students eligible for P-EBT?

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

Are children who are home-schooled eligible for P-EBT?

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

Parents whose children are still enrolled in their school but who chose fully-virtual learning, even if your school offers in-person or hybrid classes, are eligible for P-EBT, if all other criteria is met.

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

If your child attends school in-district and is eligible for free or reduced price school meals for the 2020-2021 school year and there are no age limitations from the school, then your child is eligible for P-EBT as long as they otherwise meet eligibility criteria and as long as your school submits your child’s information. You may contact your school district to confirm that your child’s information was submitted.

If your child attends an out-of-district school and either their home (sending) school district or the district where your child(ren) attends school participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), your child may be eligible, as long as they otherwise meet eligibility criteria.

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

School-Age Children (K-12)
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.

Children Under Six in SNAP Household
P-EBT benefits will be issued on the Families First card of the household where the child(ren)’s case is active for each eligible month.

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 and otherwise meets eligibility criteria, your child is eligible for P-EBT.

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

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

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

For children under the age of six in SNAP households:
Beginning June 15, 2021, benefits of $122.76 per child, per month were added to the Families First EBT card of households for each month from October to May that your household had an active SNAP case.

The benefit for June was posted to your Families First card on July 13, 2021.

For school-age (K-12) children:
Beginning on July 20, 2021, P-EBT benefits will be 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 your school submitted your child(ren)’s information, but you did not receive benefits on your Families First card, it was because we could not match the information your school provided with your child(ren)’s information on your SNAP case. You will still receive P-EBT benefits, but 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. Please keep this card. Future benefits will be issued to that card. You will need to use the date of birth of the child named on the card to activate your card. If you have trouble activating, you may need to check with your school to confirm the date of birth the school has on record.

This benefit will be in addition your SNAP benefits.  

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 EBT Customer Service at 1-800-997-3333 to use the automated phone system to get your balance; or, 
  • Check your last store receipt. 
Why didn’t I get my school-age (K-12) child(ren)’s P-EBT benefit on my Families First EBT card?

Benefits are provided for K-12 students for every month your child was on a virtual or hybrid schedule for a majority of the month. Your child(ren) will receive either the fully virtual benefit amount, the hybrid benefit amount or no benefit (if in-person for a majority of the month) based on the status your school provided for that month.

If your children had different learning schedules, each child will receive the appropriate benefit for their status each month. Your school must submit your child(ren)’s information for each month in order to receive all eligible P-EBT benefits.

You can call your child(ren)’s school to confirm your child(ren)’s status and if their information was submitted.  If your school confirms this information, please know that we have it and your benefits are in process. If your school submits the information after the monthly due date, your child will receive the P-EBT benefits at the end of the next month.  

While most families receiving SNAP were issued P-EBT benefits for their school-age (K-12) students on their existing Families First card, some families will receive a P-EBT card in the mail. 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 you did not receive benefits on your Families First card, it was because we could not match the information your school provided with your child(ren)’s information on your SNAP case. You will still receive P-EBT benefits, but 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. Please keep this card. Future benefits, if applicable, will be issued to it. You will need to use the date of birth of the child named on the card to activate your card. If you have trouble activating, you may need to check with your school to confirm the date of birth the school has on record.

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

There are a number of possible reasons for this:

  • Your other children were not eligible. See eligibility criteria above.  For example, if your children are on different schedules and don’t have the same attendance status (in-person, fully-virtual, or hybrid), they will receive different amounts.
  • Your other children’s benefits are in process. We process benefits once a month after we get the information from the schools. If there was a delay from your child’s school, their benefits may be delayed.
  • We could not match your child(ren)’s information to your SNAP Case. 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.
    You can call your child(ren)’s school to confirm your child’s status and if their information was submitted.  If your school confirms this information, please know that we have it and your benefits are in process.
What if my SNAP case is now closed?

For school-age (K-12) students:
P-EBT benefits are issued to your 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 will reissue the benefits onto a new P-EBT card. You will receive the P-EBT card in the mail.

For child(ren) under the age of six:
If you are scheduled to receive the P-EBT benefits on your Families First card, but your SNAP case is closed at the time benefits are issued, we will still issue the benefits to your Families First card for you to use as you would any SNAP benefit.  

If you no longer have your Families First card, you should contact your local county board of social services to request a replacement card. 

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

You will receive a P-EBT card in the mail where your benefits will be loaded for your eligible children.

Benefits are provided for K-12 students for every month your child was on a virtual or hybrid learning schedule for a majority of the month. Your child(ren) will receive either the fully virtual benefit amount, the hybrid benefit amount or no benefit (if in-person a majority of the month) based on the status your school provided for that month. If your children had different learning schedules, each child will receive the appropriate benefit for their status each month. Your school must submit your child(ren)’s information for each month in order to receive all eligible P-EBT benefits.

You can call your child(ren)’s school to confirm your child(ren)’s status and if their information was submitted.  If your school confirms this information, please know that we have it and your benefits are in process. If your school submits the information after the monthly due date, your child will receive the P-EBT benefits at the end of the next month.  

For the first issuance, we will mail a P-EBT card to the address your school sent us. Please keep this card for future benefits. 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. Please keep this card. Future benefits will be issued to it. You should also confirm the date of birth the school has on record for all children submitted. You will need to use the date of birth of the child named on the card to activate your card.

Once you have received your P-EBT card, you can check the balance 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 EBT Customer Service at 1-800-997-3333 to use the automated phone system to get your balance; or,
  • Check your last store receipt.
Why didn’t I receive my P-EBT benefit?

Benefits are provided for K-12 students for every month your child was on a fully virtual or hybrid learning schedule for a majority of the month. Your children will receive either the full virtual benefit amount, the hybrid benefit amount or no benefit based on the status your school provided for that month. If your child(ren) attended school fully in-person for a majority of the month, you will not receive a P-EBT benefit for that month.

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. Please keep this card. Future benefits, if applicable, will be issued to that card. You will need to use the date of birth of the child named on the card to activate your card. If you have trouble activating, you may need to check with your school to confirm the date of birth the school has on record.

You can call your child(ren)’s school to confirm your child’s status and if their information was submitted.  If your school confirms this information, please know that we have it and your benefits are in process.

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

There are a number of possible reasons for this:

  • Your other children were not eligible. See eligibility criteria above.  For example, if your children are on different schedules and don’t have the same attendance status (in-person, fully-virtual, or hybrid), they will receive different amounts.
  • Your other children’s benefits are in process. We process benefits once a month after we get the information from the schools. If there was a delay from your child’s school, their benefits may be delayed.
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. Please keep all P-EBT cards you received. Future benefits, if applicable, will be issued to them.

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 school 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 P-EBT card are included in the envelope with your card. If you have any problems activating your P-EBT card, call the number on the back of your P-EBT card (1-800-997-3333).

Please do not call this number if you did not receive a P-EBT card or need to request a replacement P-EBT card. To request a replacement P-EBT card, please see the section below “What if I need a replacement P-EBT/Families First EBT card?”

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 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 the FOOD option.
  • Enter your PIN on the keypad

Just like SNAP, recipients may also use their Families First EBT card to purchase eligible SNAP food items online at participating stores.  For more information about ordering online and to find participating stores in your area, visit the “Using Your Benefits” page

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.

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 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 1-800-997-3333.

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

If you need to replace your P-EBT card or did not receive your P-EBT card because your address was incorrect, contact your local county board of social services. If your P-EBT 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 P-EBT card. You may be asked to verify your identity. There may be a fee for replacement P-EBT 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 fully-virtual, 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 fully-virtual. 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) was approved for free or reduced price meals before schools went remote on March 18, 2020:

  • Benefits were sent starting in July 2020, 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 were issued in one of two ways:

  • If you were a SNAP recipient and we were 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 were 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 have received the card in the mail. If you did not receive the card, please contact your local county board of social services.
When were benefits issued for September 2020?

P-EBT benefits for the month of September in the 2020-2021 school year were initially issued for students who were eligible for free or reduced price school meals as of June 2020 and were attending schools virtually or with a hybrid schedule of at least five consecutive days in September. This benefit is not available for students were attending classes in-person.

If you met the criteria for September, but you have not received a September 2020-2021 P-EBT benefit, you should contact your school to confirm the address they provided. Your school can submit your child(ren)’s information for benefits issued in Summer 2021.

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, contact your local county board of social services for a replacement card.

What is the September P-EBT supplement?

School-aged students who previously received a P-EBT benefit for September 2020 will receive a supplement benefit amount of $16.32 per eligible child in summer 2021. This benefit will be issued to you automatically by mail or, in some instances, on your existing Families First Card, if you receive SNAP.

What is Summer P-EBT?

Summer P-EBT is a standard P-EBT benefit for school-age children and children under the age of six in an active SNAP household over the summer months.

Summer P-EBT benefits have not been issued at this time.  Please continue to check back for updates.

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

P-EBT benefits are available to children who were eligible for free or reduced price school meals at a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), but whose schools closed or operated with reduced attendance or hours for five consecutive days due to COVID-19.