Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) is part of the U.S. government response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 (PL 116–127), as amended by the Continuing Appropriations Act 2021 and Other Extensions Act (PL 116-159), the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 (PL 116-260), and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (PL 117-2) provides the Secretary of Agriculture authority to approve state agency plans to administer P-EBT.
USDA is committed to providing nutrition assistance to hard-hit families across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. 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, providing more money for low-income families and millions of children missing meals due to school and child care closures.
Through P-EBT, eligible school children receive temporary emergency nutrition benefits loaded on EBT cards that are used to purchase food. Children who would have received free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Act if their schools were not closed or operating with reduced hours or attendance for at least 5 consecutive days are eligible to receive P-EBT benefits. P-EBT benefits are available in any school year in which there is a public health emergency declaration based on an outbreak of SARS-CoV-2; as well as during at any covered summer period that follows a school year during which there was a public health emergency designation based on an outbreak of SAR-CoV-2.