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FAQ on P-EBT food benefits cards

Cohoes families recently began receiving information in the mail about P-EBT food benefits cards. We wanted to take the opportunity to provide some details on what these cards are and why they’re being distributed.

What are P-EBT food benefits?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 authorized the payment of P-EBT food benefits to households with children who would have received free school lunches under the National School Lunch Act, if not for a school closure. These temporary food benefits are to help cover the cost of meals children would have otherwise received at school from March through June during the 2019-2020 school year. Please note that the program is federally funded, not district funded.

Because all Cohoes students receive free meals under the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), all students qualify to receive P-EBT food benefits.

Do I need to apply for P-EBT food benefits for my child/children?

No, you do not (and cannot) apply for P-EBT food benefits. P-EBT food benefits will automatically be issued to all eligible children.

If your family received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and/or Temporary Assistance‒TA (Cash) benefits for March 2020, and you have children between ages 5 and 18 who receive free or reduced-price school lunch, you should have already received P-EBT food benefits for each eligible child in your household. These food benefits were automatically issued to your family’s current EBT card in May and June.

When will my qualified child/children receive the P-EBT food benefits?

Families with children ages 5 through 18 who received either SNAP or TA (Cash) benefits for March 2020 have already received their P-EBT food benefits.

Most, but not all, families with children ages 3-18 who get Medicaid AND who get free school lunches have already received their P-EBT food benefits in July.

All other families with children eligible for P-EBT food benefits will receive a P-EBT 2020 food benefit card for each of their eligible children. Eligible children will continue to receive their P-EBT 2020 food benefit cards through October.

How much will my child/children receive in P-EBT food benefits?

The maximum monthly amounts you may receive for each eligible child in your household are:

  • March – $68
  • April – $125
  • May – $119
  • June – $108

So, $420 is the maximum amount of P-EBT food benefits that one child could receive for the entire March through June period.

How will I receive P-EBT food benefits for my qualified child/children?

The P-EBT food benefits will be loaded onto an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card:

  • Most families that receive SNAP and/ or TA (Cash) benefits already received the P-EBT food benefits for each eligible child sometime in May or June. The P-EBT food benefits were issued directly to your household’s existing EBT card and added to your SNAP balance. You can check your family’s SNAP/P-EBT food benefits balance (but not your eligibility for P-EBT food benefits) by visiting connectebt.com or by calling 1-888-328-6399.
  • Most families with children who receive Medicaid, who are between the ages of 3 and 18 and who are eligible for P-EBT food benefits will have their P-EBT food benefits issued either to the Medicaid Common Benefit Identification Card (CBIC) of the parent or to the CBIC of the oldest child in your household who has been certified for free or reduced-price school lunches. Households with children in this group received a letter in July telling them how to access their P-EBT food benefits using their Medicaid CBIC.
  • The parents/guardians of eligible children who did not receive their P-EBT food benefits on a SNAP, TA (Cash) or Medicaid card will receive a P-EBT 2020 food benefit card in the mail. A card will be sent for each eligible child. These cards will be mailed in each school-aged child’s name, not a parent’s or guardian’s name. A picture of what the P-EBT 2020 food benefit card looks like is included below. Eligible children will continue to receive their P-EBT 2020 food benefit cards, including instructions on how to use them, through October. Once your benefits have been used, please be sure to keep this card in the event P-EBT food benefits are issued in the future.

P-EBT card sample

How do I use P-EBT food benefits if they are on a P-EBT 2020 food benefit card?

When you receive your P-EBT 2020 food benefit card in the mail, you will also receive information about how to select a PIN. It is important that you follow the directions for selecting a PIN to be able to access P-EBT food benefits. To access your P-EBT food benefits using a P-EBT 2020 food benefit card, you must have a Personal Identification Number (PIN).

What can I purchase with my child/children’s P-EBT food benefits?

P-EBT food benefits can be used to purchase food at authorized retail food stores. A detailed list of food items that may be purchased with the benefits can be found at http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligible-food-items/.


See the full FAQ on P-EBT food benefits.

To submit questions about your P-EBT food benefits, use the P-EBT Contact Form.

If you have already received a letter from OTDA notifying you that P-EBT food benefits have been issued to your household and you have questions, you may call the P-EBT Food Benefits Helpline: 1-833-452-0096.

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