Frequently Asked Questions
About P-EBT for School Year 2021-22
- Will my child receive P-EBT for school year 2021-22?
If your child is eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, your child should receive P-EBT funds for meals missed during school year 2021-22 in the following circumstances:
- The child is in quarantine for at least a 5-day consecutive period due to illness from or exposure to COVID-19, OR
- The child's school is closed for at least 5 consecutive days due to COVID-19 related circumstances, OR.
- The child's school is operating remotely or on an altered or reduced schedule.
- How will my child receive the P-EBT funds?
Most children in SNAP households will receive funds on the existing Ohio Direction Card where your SNAP funds are loaded. Spend your P-EBT funds just like SNAP. School children in non-SNAP households will receive funds on the existing P-EBT card issued in or after February 2021, with the exception of students that have not previously received P-EBT, who will receive a new card.
- How much money will I receive to help purchase food?
Each child will receive $7.10 (the combined daily federal reimbursement rate for breakfast and lunch for school year 2021-2022) for each day the child does not receive free or reduced-price meals at the school because the school is closed, operating remote learning, is operating with reduced attendance or hours for at least 5 consecutive days due to COVID-19. This also includes days a child is not at school in-person because they are having to quarantine due to COVID-19. Weekends, holidays or school breaks are not included.
- The first payment for qualifying days missed from August to October 2021 will be issued by the end of November.
- Later payments will be issued by the end of the month following the month the days were missed. For example, P-EBT funds for qualifying days missed in November will be issued by the end of December.
- Benefits for all children in a household may not be issued on the same day, depending on the child's last name.
- Why did I only receive P-EBT benefits for some of my children but not all?
P-EBT benefits are dependent on the number of days your child spent remote learning, out of school due to COVID-19 related closures, or quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure or infection.
P-EBT benefits are now issued on a staggered schedule to relieve pressure on grocery stores, so children that both qualify but have different last names may receive benefits on different days.
- Does P-EBT replace grab and go or traditional meal sites during out of school time?
No, P-EBT funds supplement grab and go and traditional 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.
About 2021-22 School Year P-EBT for Children Under 6 in SNAP Households
- Will my child under 6 receive P-EBT?
The federal government has not yet approved Ohio's plan to issue P-EBT to children under 6 in SNAP households - more information will be available soon.
What is P-EBT?
- 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, altered schedules, illness or quarantine. Families with children in preschool through 12th grade who receive free or reduced-price school meals under the National School Lunch Program will receive P-EBT funds for qualifying days missed.
- Who is eligible?
All families with children in Ohio in preschool through grade 12 who qualified for free and reduced-price school meals under the National School Lunch Program in the 2021-22 school year, including any student in a school that provides free meals to all students under the Community Eligibility Provision, AND had certain disruptions to access to those meals due to COVID-19. 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 under the Community Eligibility Provision, and your child meets other eligibility requirements related to building attendance, hours, or closures, 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 if they meet other COVID-19 related eligibility criteria. 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.
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 will be added to your existing account monthly. Benefits for some or all eligible children will be added to your EBT card. NOTE: In some cases, even if you receive SNAP benefits, you may receive some or all of your funds through a P-EBT card sent 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 will receive funds on the P-EBT card you received in or after February 2021. You should receive one card per eligible child. Keep your card(s): Funds may be added later.
- If my child(ren) are eligible for P-EBT funds, will we receive a one-time payment or multiple payments?
By the end of November 2021, you will receive a one-time payment covering the cost of missed school meals from the beginning of the 2021-22 school year through the end of October 2021. You will receive monthly payments for the remaining missed meals for the remainder of the school year.
- When will I get my funds?
Benefit amounts may change depending on changes to your child's ability to receive meals in-person in their school building.
- The first issuance should go out by the end of November and will include funds for school meals missed from the first day of the 2021-2022 school year through the end of October 2021. (Many children may have already received funds for August and September if their schools were operating remotely during those months).
- Subsequently, families will receive funds on a monthly basis for meals missed in preceding months. Benefit amounts will be calculated based on how many days children missed due to COVID-19 related closures or attendance or hour reductions.
- How much money will I receive to help purchase food?
Eligible households will receive $7.10 (the federal rate for school breakfast and lunch) per student per day for every day a school meal was missed due to building closure, hybrid schedule, or COVID-19 quarantine.
- Issuance amounts may change month-to-month depending on the meals missed by each child, each month.
- 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, some 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 by the end of February, 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 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 February, 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 your existing P-EBT card(s) or new card(s) in the mail if receiving P-EBT for the first time, 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 recent address changes 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.