Frequently Asked Questions
- What is P-EBT?
The Pandemic – Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) Program is additional money for families to buy food due to COVID-19 related school closures. Families with children who receive free or reduced-price school meals under the National School Lunch Program will receive P-EBT funds.
The P-EBT Program will bring more than $254 million into Ohio’s economy, supporting our grocery stores, local economies, and communities. An estimated 850,000 children in grades K-12 across Ohio will receive these funds.
- Who is eligible?
All families with children in Ohio in grades K-12 who qualify for free and reduced-price school meals under the National School Lunch Program, including any student in a school that provides free meals to all students. Use this searchable database to check if your child's school participates in the National School Lunch Program.
- Will using P-EBT impact my immigration status?
NO. Using your P-EBT card does NOT impact you or your child’s immigration status. The public charge rule does NOT apply to P-EBT benefits.
- I have never used ODJFS benefits (SNAP, OWF) before, or I’m not currently. Can I use P-EBT?
Yes, if your child qualifies for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program OR goes to a school that provides free meals to all students, you will receive a P-EBT card in the mail. You do not need to enroll in the program to use the funds.
SNAP provides a monthly benefit to help buy food. To learn more about eligibility and how to apply for SNAP and other ODJFS benefits, visit benefits.ohio.gov.
- Are children who attend private, charter, or parochial schools eligible? What about students attending Career Tech schools?
If a parochial, private, charter, or Career Tech school participates in the National School Lunch Program and the child receives free/reduced-price meals at school, the child is eligible for P-EBT. NOTE that not all parochial, private, or charter schools participate in the National School Lunch Program, so you can contact your school directly to find out, or search this database. If a child’s home school district participates in the National School Lunch Program, but the private, parochial or charter school they attend does not, the child will not be eligible for P-EBT. This is because P-EBT is meant to replace meals that children would have received at school if not for pandemic-related closures.
- Do children that became eligible for free or reduced-priced meals after April, 29 qualify for these funds ?
Unfortunately, not at this time. Only children who qualified for free or reduced-price meals as of 4/29/2020 are eligible for P-EBT.
Getting the P-EBT Funds
- How will I get the P-EBT funds if I already have SNAP?
In most cases, if you already have SNAP benefits, funds should have been added to your existing account by the end of May. Benefits for some or all eligible children should have been added to your EBT card. NOTE: In some cases, even if you receive SNAP benefits, you may have received some or all of your funds through a new P-EBT card in the mail for one or more child in your household. You do not need to apply.
- How will I get the P-EBT funds if I do not have SNAP?
If you do NOT have SNAP benefits, you should have received a P-EBT card in the mail. Cards were issued in June. You should have received one card per eligible child.
- If my child(ren) are eligible for P-EBT funds, will we receive a one-time payment or multiple payments? Will we receive any funds covering the summer months when students are not in school?
You should have received a one-time payment covering the cost of missed school meals in March, April, and May. At this time, the P-EBT Program has not been extended to cover the summer months.
- When will I get my funds?
As of June 4, 2020, approximately 350,000 children (approximately 41% of all children eligible for Pandemic EBT in Ohio) received their P-EBT funds on May 28/29 on their household’s existing Ohio Direction card. The remaining 500,000 children were issued a new Pandemic EBT card which should have arrived in the mail in June. NOTE: Some children on SNAP may have received their funds through a new P-EBT card in the mail. You do not need to apply.
- How much money will I receive to help purchase food?
Eligible households will receive $5.70 (the federal rate for school breakfast and lunch) per student per day for every day school was closed.
- For children eligible as of March when school closures began, the total amount of funds will be $302.10.
- For children that became eligible in April, the total amount of funds will be $239.40.
- Funds will be provided for each eligible child in the household.
- Do I need to apply to get the funds?
No, you do not need to apply to receive EBT funds.
- I have SNAP but some or all of my P-EBT funds were not loaded onto my card. What should I do?
Due to technical issues, as many as 150,000 children in SNAP households will receive their P-EBT funds through a new card in the mail, instead of on the Ohio Direction Card you already have. If you think you are eligible but do not get your P-EBT funds in June, please contact ODJFS at 1-866-244-0071.
- What if the eligible child lives in a shelter?
If the child’s address on file with their school as of 4/29/2020 was a shelter, then the child’s P-EBT card will be mailed there. If the child has since moved into permanent housing, the child’s parent/guardian should first contact the shelter to see if they received the card. If not received in June, call ODJFS Customer Service 1-866-244-0071 for guidance on how to request a replacement card.
Using Your Card
- What will the envelope look like that my P-EBT card comes in, so I don't throw it away?
Pandemic EBT cards will be mailed in a plain white envelope with a window pane showing the child’s name and address. Click here to see what the envelope will look like..
- How do I activate my P-EBT card?
See instructions for activating and using your card here.
- I am having trouble setting up my P-EBT card.
Call the number on the back of the card for help.
- How can I check my balance?
You can call the number on the back of your P-EBT card to check your balance.
- Where can I use the P-EBT card?
You can use the card anywhere SNAP benefits are accepted. Find a store here.
- What can I buy with the P-EBT card?
You can buy most household grocery items, including:
- Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables
- Meat, dairy, and eggs
- Rice, beans, pasta, and other dry goods
- Breads and cereals
- Seeds to grow your own food
- What items can I NOT buy with the P-EBT card?
Items you can NOT buy include:
- Prepared meals sold hot and ready to eat
- Cleaning products, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.
- Medicine or supplements
- Restaurant food
- Pet food
- Alcohol and tobacco products
- How do I buy food with the P-EBT card?
See instructions for using your funds here.
- Can I use the P-EBT at farmers markets that accept EBT? Do Produce Perks apply?
Yes, P-EBT cards can be used anywhere that SNAP/EBT cards are accepted. This includes Farmers Markets. Produce Perks confirmed they are providing a $1-for-$1 match on all P-EBT purchases when you shop at participating locations. See produceperks.org/locations.
- Does P-EBT replace grab and go meal sites?
No, P-EBT funds supplement grab and go meal sites – they do not replace them. You can find a meal site in your community through the Ohio Department of Education’s meal site finder.
- I haven’t received my funds yet and I think I am eligible. What do I do?
- If you do not receive funds on your existing Ohio Direction Card, or through new P-EBT card(s) in the mail, in June, call ODJFS at 1-866-244-0071.
- Why should I use P-EBT funds?
P-EBT helps families with children buy food during COVID-19. It can help free up other funds to pay for things like housing, child care, and transportation that your family needs. The program also helps support Ohio’s local economies, including our grocery stores and their employees, during this challenging time.
- I’ve used all the money on my card. Should I throw it out?
No! Save your card(s). Funds may be added at a later date.
- What if I do not use all of the money?
The money will carry over from month to month and will only be removed from the card if unused after one year. You can use the funds when your family needs them to help buy food.
- I don’t want to use my P-EBT funds. What do I do?
You may destroy the card when you get it.
- What if I recently changed addresses? Can I update my address?
To update your address, please call ODJFS at 1-866-244-0071. Pandemic EBT cards for children with address changes after 4/29/2020 may be mailed to the previous address provided by the school district. Families should call to report the address change and get advice on how to request a replacement card, if necessary.
- Are P-EBT funds in addition to other EBT funds, like SNAP?
Yes, P-EBT funds are in addition to any SNAP benefits a family may be receiving. It does not matter whether the family already receives the maximum SNAP benefit amount for their household size. P-EBT is a replacement for missed school meals and is not the same as SNAP.