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  • Andrea Strong

$420 is Coming Your Way. All Your Pandemic EBT Questions, Answered.

If you haven't hear about Pandemic EBT yet, here's the deal. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 allowed states to apply for Pandemic EBT (P-EBT)—essentially money for meals children would have received free or reduced price meals under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, if not for the school closure. Any state in which a school is closed for at least five consecutive days due to a public health emergency such as COVID-19, can apply for P-EBT. The program is available to families regardless of immigration status.


A key difference for New York City is that since it has qualified for Community Eligibility (CEP), or universal free lunch for all children in public school regardless of income, all 1.1 million children enrolled in public school in New York City —including undocumented students—are now eligible to receive an additional $5.70 for every day school has been closed, or a total of $420 per child, to use to purchase foods available through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Students in charter and parochial schools will receive P-EBT if their school participates in the federal school lunch program.


Tell me more!

As I said, all families with children in public school will receive $420 per child regardless of income or immigration status. Benefits are issues automatically you do not need to do anything! If you already get SNAP, your benefit will be added to your card. If you don’t you will get a temporary card with your funds on it will be mailed to you. You have one year to use your card once you get it.


If you need more information or have questions, please refer to this great guide from Community Food Advocates.

When will the money be sent?

The funds will be distributed in three waves.

Wave 1

Households enrolled in SNAP and/or Public Assistance (PA). Benefits will be added to current EBT cards. First Payment: $193 (for March and April) by early June. Second Payment: $227 (for May and June) by the end of June. Wave 2

Households enrolled in Medicaid but not SNAP and/or PA. Benefits may be added to a Medicaid Common Benefit Identification Card (CBIC) and a PIN number will be assigned. One payment: $420 (for March-June), around the end of June.

Wave 3

Households not enrolled in SNAP, PA, or Medicaid. A card will be issued and mailed to the household for each student. One payment: $420 (for March-June), beginning in July and August.


Can I donate my P-EBT Benefit? P-EBT benefits (like regular EBT benefits) are not transferrable, so families are not permitted to donate their cards to other families. Therefore, advocates are urging the following instead: "I would urge families to use the card to get food for their own families and then donate the equivalent amount of money to local hunger organizations such as Hunger Free NYC, the Campaign Against Hunger, City Harvest, and the Food Bank of New York City," says Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger-Free America. "Making a charitable financial contribution to organizations that are already working to maximize the impact of donations is one of the most effective ways to support our collective work.” 


But please, use the card, urges Liz Accles, Executive Director of Community Food Advocates. "If you are thinking, I don't need this money, and since I can't donate it, I won't use the card, think again," she says. "Think of the money as another form of stimulus check. If you aren't using it, do a little self reflection. Is it because of the stigma associated with SNAP?" Accles points out that this money is meant to fuel the economy and not using it does no one any good. It doesn't go back into a pool, it remains wasted. "Use it," she says. "If you want to share the wealth use it, and donate that $420 to a food insecurity organization."


If you would like to make a donation here are a few great organizations to consider


City Harvest

Food Bank

Feeding America

Hunger-Free NY

Community Food Advocates


Thank you!

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    © by Andrea Strong. Photo by Joachim Wiese.