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

There was an error in the telephone number on some P-EBT cards. If you received a card with the incorrect phone number, you will receive a new card with the correct number soon. You also can use your current card to access benefits by calling 1-800- 997-3333 to activate your card. 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 for the 2019-2020 school year, but whose schools went remote due to COVID-19.

Who is eligible for P-EBT benefits?

Children are eligible if their schools went remote and they received free- or reduced-price school meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) for the 2019-2020 school year. 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 is working with schools to identify students who became eligible for free- or reduced-price meals after March 18, 2020 of the 2019-2020 school year. If your school(s) submitted the information, benefits will be issued to you automatically by mail or, in some instances, your existing Families First Card, if you receive SNAP.

How much will my child receive in benefits?

The benefit amount you receive depends on when you became eligible for free- or reduced-price school meals for the 2019-2020 school year (see chart below for amount). Students who were receiving free- or reduced-price school meals on March 18, 2020 the day schools went remote, are 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.  If you already received a P-EBT benefit, you are not eligible for an additional amount.

  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 will my child receive these benefits?

If your child(ren) was approved for free- or reduced-price meals before schools closed on March 18, 2020, you should have received your benefits already.

 For families who 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 will be 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 will be sent to the address your school sent us. P-EBT cards will be mailed beginning the week of September 28, 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. If your child is eligible, it is likely that your card is in process or in the mail.

This is a one-time benefit to cover meals for the 2019-2020 school year.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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 2019-2020 school year and there are no age limitations from the school, then the student would be eligible for P-EBT. Your school must send the information to us for you to receive a P-EBT benefit.

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.

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 2019-2020 school year, your child is 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” 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 www.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. If your school did not submit your child’s information, ask them to send it in.

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. If your school did not submit your child(ren)’s information, ask them to send it in. We continue to process P-EBT benefits daily.

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?

First, contact your school district to confirm information was submitted for all of your children.

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 your school did not submit your child(ren)’s information, ask them to send it in for the child(ren) who is missing. If we are able to match the additional child(ren) to your SNAP case, you will receive the benefit on your Families First card. If we are not able to match your child(ren)’s information to your SNAP case, you will get a card in the mail. We continue to process P-EBT benefits daily.

Remember, P-EBT is a benefit for eligible children who were in school for the 2019-2020 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 family started receiving SNAP after March 18, 2020?

If your family started receiving SNAP after March 18, 2020, but your child(ren) were already receiving free- or reduced-price school meals, you should have been mailed a card with your P-EBT benefits already. 

If your family started receiving SNAP after March 18, 2020 and your child(ren) are newly eligible to receive free- or reduced-price school meals, your child(ren) should be eligible for P-EBT. If we were able to match the information the school gave us to your SNAP case, your benefits will be added to your existing Families First EBT card.  If we were not able to match your child(ren)’s information with your SNAP case, we will mail a P-EBT card to the address your school sent us. See the other questions in this section for more information about receiving your benefits.

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?

First, contact your school district to confirm that all of your children’s information was submitted. If your school did not submit your child’s information, ask them to send it in. We continue to process and mail P-EBT benefits daily to the address your school provided. 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.  

You can call your school to confirm the address they provided.  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?

If you have more than one child in school, your P-EBT card will usually contain benefits for all children who received free- or reduced-price meals. However, if the address or guardian information was not the same for all of your children, you may get a separate card for those children. Please allow additional time to receive all of your cards.

If you still don’t receive your P-EBT cards, contact your school district to confirm information was submitted for all of your children.

If your school did not submit your child(ren)’s information, ask them to send it in for the child(ren) who is missing. We continue to process P-EBT benefits daily.

Remember, P-EBT is a benefit for eligible children who were in school for the 2019-2020 school year only.

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 oldest eligible child's DOB for 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 if I do 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