P-EBT is a federal program that provides food benefits to help families with young children (aged 0-6) who got CalFresh Food and school children who were eligible for free or reduced-price school meals for School Year 2021-21. The USDA has extended the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) food assistance program through Summer 2021. In this post, we are going to explain how the California P-EBT works, who is eligible, when cards will be reloaded and how to check the balance on your card.
First, we will explain in detail what the California P-EBT program is about.
Next, we will cover who is eligible for the program and how many rounds of P-EBT benefits have been issued so far.
Additionally, we will explain the Summer 2021 P-EBT extension, who is eligible, and how much you can expect in benefits.
Also, we will walk you through how to check the balance of your P-EBT card and how to contact California P-EBT customer service.
Lastly, we will answer the most frequently asked questions about the P-EBT program.
Table of Contents:
- What is California P-EBT Program?
- Who is Eligible for P-EBT in California?
- How to Apply for California P-EBT
- P-EBT Extension in California – Summer 2021
- When will Summer 2021 P-EBT be Loaded?
- How to Contact California P-EBT Customer Service
- How to Check California P-EBT Card Balance
- California P-EBT FAQs
What is California P-EBT Program?
Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) provides food assistance to households with children who are enrolled in a free or reduced-price school meal program while schools are out of session due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The program operates similarly to the California SNAP/food stamps program.
Benefits are pre-loaded funds on P-EBT cards to eligible children and can be used exclusively for food purchases.
Pandemic EBT was originally scheduled to expire on September 30, 2020.
However, on October 1, 2020, the program was extended for an additional year – through September 30, 2021.
Additionally, under the American Rescue plan signed into law in March 2021, the P-EBT program was further extended through the end of the pandemic.
Therefore, as long as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and schools are not 100% in-person, the program is likely to continue.
Furthermore, the program’s eligibility was expanded to include children under 6 in SNAP households.
Also, on January 22, in support of President Biden’s call to action on hunger, USDA announced that it is increasing the P-EBT benefit by approximately 15 percent.
This was aimed at providing more money for low-income families and millions of children missing meals due to school and child care closures.
Who is Eligible for P-EBT in California?
Here’s who is eligible for P-EBT benefits in the state of California:
Is my young child eligible?
Young children are eligible for P-EBT 2.0 if between October 1, 2020, and May 31, 2021, they were:
- Age 0-6 years old; and
- Part of a household getting CalFresh food benefits; and
- Living in a county where at least one school facility was closed or limiting in-person instruction.
Is my school-age child eligible?
School-aged children are eligible for P-EBT 2.0 if they were:
- Enrolled at a school for school year 2020-21 that participated in the federal School Breakfast Program or National School Lunch Program; and
- Eligible to get free or reduced-price meals for school year 2020-21; and
- Assumed to have attended school via all distance learning or a hybrid learning at least some days of the week during school year 2020-21.
P-EBT Extension in California – Summer 2021
As part of the American Rescue Plan, signed into law on March 11, 2021, by President Biden, children that are enrolled in the National School Lunch Program or are under 6 years of age and residing in a SNAP household will receive P-EBT over the summer as well.
As a result, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) announced that California has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) food assistance program through Summer 2021.
The CDSS and the California Department of Education (CDE) will partner to issue Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits.
The P-EBT program helps families with eligible children whose access to free or reduced-price meals at school or other food assistance has been impacted by COVID-19.
The summer P-EBT is an extension of benefits for the 2020-2021 school year.
P-EBT was approved to provide additional benefits, to children who already received P-EBT benefits, for the months of August and September.
Children eligible for P-EBT extension benefits:
- Previously received P-EBT benefits for the 2019-20 school year;
- Are attending a California K-12 school for the 2020-21 school year; and
- Are assumed to be attending school virtually or via a hybrid model of virtual and in-person instruction for the 2020-21 school year.
How to Apply for P-EBT in California
You don’t need to sign up or apply for California P-EBT benefits.
If your young child got CalFresh Food benefits or your school-aged child was enrolled in free or reduced-price school meals, either individually or based on their attendance at a school where all kids were eligible for free meals, a card will automatically be mailed for each eligible kid.
Cards will start arriving in early July and through August for kids 0-6 who got CalFresh and early September through November for kids TK-12.;
When will Summer 2021 P-EBT be Loaded?
Cards will start arriving in early July and through August for kids 0-6 who got CalFresh and early September through November for kids TK-12.
How to Contact California P-EBT Customer Service
If you need to speak to California P-EBT Customer service, we can help.
Families that have already received a P-EBT card and need assistance with:
- PIN set-up
- Need to request a replacement card
- Did not receive their card in the mail as expected
Contact the California P-EBT Helpline at (877) 328-9677 for help.
Families that have not received a P-EBT card but have questions about their P-EBT eligibility can also contact the P-EBT Helpline at (877) 328-9677.
The P-EBT Helpline will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How to Check California P-EBT Card Balance
You have two options available to you to check the P-EBT balance.
Option 1 – Check by Phone
You can check your California P-EBT Card balance by calling the Customer Service number on the back of your card.
We have also provided the number below for your convenience.
California P-EBT Customer Service Number: 1-877-328-9677.
The Customer Service Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
After you call, enter your P-EBT card number and you will hear your account balance.
Option 2 – Check your Last Receipt
Also, you can check the balance on your California P-EBT card through your last transaction receipt.
This is the easiest and quickest way to locate the current balance on your P-EBT Card.
To locate the balance, look at the bottom of your most recent grocery store receipt.
Furthermore, it is a good practice to keep your most current P-EBT receipt.
That way, you always have a quick way to check your P-EBT card balance before you shop.
California P-EBT FAQs
Here are the most common questions readers have regarding the California P-EBT program:
When will I get my P-EBT card?
P-EBT Cards will start arriving in early July for kids 0-6 years old who got CalFresh Food benefits between October 2020 and January 2021 and early September for all school-age kids.
Young children who got CalFresh Food benefits between February 2021 and May 2021 will get their cards beginning in November.
Cards are mailed out in groups based on age (young child or school-age child) and in alphabetical order by first name.
What is the California P-EBT benefit amount?
Here’s how much you should expect to receive:
Young children (0-6 years) get P-EBT benefits based on the learning mode at schools in their area.
The maximum amount per eligible child is $123 per month.
This applies to those who lived in a county where at least one school was offering only distance learning and $68 per month for those who lived in a county where, if no school was only distance learning, at least one school was hybrid learning.
However, if all schools in a county were open for in-person learning, young children living in that county are not eligible for P-EBT.
School-age children get P-EBT benefits based on the most common learning mode at their school or schools in their area.
The maximum amount per eligible child is $123 per month.
This applies to those assumed to have attended school via all distance learning and $68 per month for hybrid learning.
Children who are assumed to have attended school in person are not eligible for P-EBT. The amount may change over time based on when schools reopened in your area.
How long do I have to use my P-EBT benefits?
You can begin using your card at any time.
However, if you do not use your card for one year, any unused benefits will expire.
If I get P-EBT benefits, will it make me a public charge?
No, getting and using P-EBT benefits does NOT affect you or your child’s immigration status and does not make you a public charge.
It is safe to use and the program does NOT report your information to immigration services.
Furthermore, Public charge does not apply to all immigrants.
Additionally, if you have questions about your immigration status and this food benefit, more information is available here, including a list of free and low-cost immigration services providers.
California P-EBT Summary
We hope this post on California P-EBT Benefits was helpful.
If you have further questions about California P-EBT, SNAP or EBT in general, please let us know in the comments section below.
Also, be sure to check out our other articles about EBT, including:
Free Admission with Alabama EBT
Alabama EBT Card FAQs
Alabama EBT Deposit Schedule
How to Request a Replacement Alabama EBT Card
Illinois EBT Phone Number
Wisconsin P-EBT Program (plus extension)