Because of school closures from COVID-19, Texas received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide more than $1 billion in pandemic food benefits to families with children that have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals.
Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) provides eligible families with a one-time payment for each child who previously received free or reduced-price meals. P-EBT works the same way Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits do and will help families get the food they need during the current pandemic. P-EBT will be administered by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Texas Department of Agriculture and Texas Education Agency. The application for P-EBT will be open until July 31, 2020.
To learn about eligibility and how to apply, see the FAQ below:
Frequently Asked Questions
What is P-EBT?
P-EBT is a one-time benefit for families who have lost access to free or reduced-price meals because of closures related to COVID-19.
Who is eligible for P-EBT?
P-EBT is for children 5-18 years old who received SNAP food benefits for the month of March 2020 and children up to 21 years old who are certified for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program at school in Texas during the 2019-20 school year. If you think you're eligible or want to learn more, contact the P-EBT Call Center at 833-613-6220 Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm Central Time.
How much money will I receive for P-EBT?
P-EBT is $285 per eligible child. This amount is based on the average number of days schools are closed for the remainder of the school year.
Do I have to apply for P-EBT?
Families who received SNAP benefits for the month of March 2020 and have children 5-18 years old as of May 17, 2020, do not need to apply for those children. These families received P-EBT benefits on their current Lone Star Card by May 22.
Families with children up to 21 years old who are certified to receive free or reduced-price meals during the 2019-20 school year need to apply for P-EBT. (This includes families who received SNAP benefits for the month of March 2020 and have children under 5 and between 19 and 21.) Your school district will send you a link to an online application by the first week of June. Once HHSC receives the application and verifies your eligibility with the school list, you will receive a Texas P-EBT card in the mail that includes P-EBT funds.
When will I get my P-EBT funds?
Families who received SNAP benefits for the month of March 2020 and have children 5-18 years old as of May 17, 2020, got funds by May 22.
Applications are reviewed within 10 days of being submitted. To get P-EBT benefits, a child's information on the application must match the information HHSC has from the child's school. If our system finds a match, P-EBT benefits are issued.
If our system cannot find a match, HHSC staff will manually review the application to find a match. Staff may try to call the family to gather additional information.
Most applications will be approved or denied by mid-July. If a child is denied, a notice will be sent to families.
How will I get the P-EBT funds?
Current SNAP recipients will have the funds loaded on to their current Lone Star Cards. Non-SNAP recipients will be mailed a Texas P-EBT card with the funds loaded on it. The Texas P-EBT card is nontransferable.
When you call the Lone Star Help Desk at 800-777-7328 to activate your card and choose your pin, you’ll need to type in the last four digits of your Social Security Number and your date of birth. (If you don’t have a Social Security Number type in four zeroes.) The numbers you type in must match the head of household information you put on your P-EBT application.
If your Social Security Number or date of birth is not working when you try to activate your card or select your PIN, you will need to visit a local office to update your information. Click HERE to find the closest local office.
If I have more than one child, will I get different cards for each child?
If you have more than one child approved for P-EBT, it's possible you will get more than one P-EBT card.
Why did I only get P-EBT funds for some of my children?
Online applications are compared to information provided by schools and districts. If there isn't an exact match by our system, the child's information is reviewed by HHSC staff and/or sent to the school or district for further review. You will still get P-EBT benefits for that child(ren) if they are eligible.
If I have an account on YourTexasBenefits.com, can I go online to see when P-EBT funds will show up on my Lone Star Card?
If you are a current SNAP recipient, you can see the balance of your Lone Star Card information on YourTexasBenefits.com.
What can I purchase with my P-EBT funds?
P-EBT follows the same rules as SNAP benefits. To learn more, visit this webpage about SNAP.
My child’s school is closed, but the school district is still providing meals. Can I still get P-EBT?
Yes, if your children are eligible for P-EBT, you will get it even if you currently receive free meals from your school district.
Will there be more than one P-EBT payment per child?
No, only one payment of $285 per child has been approved.
I am a current SNAP recipient and I have a child younger than 5 and/or older than 18 who gets free or reduced-price meals. How will I get P-EBT funds for them?
You will need to apply for P-EBT for children under 5 and/or older than 18 using the link provided by your school. P-EBT funds will be put on your Lone Star Card after you apply, and we verify your child’s information is on the list from your school district.
Will getting P-EBT affect my ability to get any other benefits?
Will getting P-EBT count against me under public charge?
No. Getting P-EBT benefits does not impact you or your child’s immigration status. The public charge rule does not apply to P-EBT benefits.
Do I or my child have to be a citizen to get P-EBT?
No. These benefits are for all children who receive free or reduced-price school meals.
I never filled out a meal application because all meals are free at my child’s school. Can my child get P-EBT benefits?
Yes. If your child goes to a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) or Provision 2 school where all students receive free or reduced-price meals, they can get P-EBT benefits no matter your income.
My child attends a charter school. Can we get P-EBT benefits?
If your child gets free or reduced-price meals at a charter school that participates in the National School Lunch Program, they can get P-EBT benefits.
My child gets free meals at day care. Can we get P-EBT benefits?
Only if your child attends a Head Start or pre-K program that participates in the National School Lunch Program. You should get a letter from your school about P-EBT if your child is eligible.
I am raising my grandchild and they get free meals at school. Can I apply for P-EBT?
Yes. If your grandchild or other family member lives with you and they get free or reduced-price meals at school, they are eligible for P-EBT. Kinship caregivers should follow the same rules as other parents to see if they will get the benefits automatically on their Lone Star Card or if they need to apply.
Can children in foster care get P-EBT?
Yes. All children, including children in foster care, who normally get free or reduced-price meals at school are eligible for P-EBT. Foster parents should follow the same rules as other parents to see if they will get the benefits automatically on their Lone Star Card or if they need to apply.
I share custody of my child. Which parent/guardian should apply?
The primary parent/guardian of the child(ren) should apply. A child is only eligible for one P-EBT benefit, even if they are part of two separate households.
How long do I have to spend my P-EBT benefits?
You can begin using your card at any time. If you don’t use your card for one year, any unused benefits will expire.
Do I need to get SNAP benefits to be eligible for P-EBT benefits?
No, P-EBT is for children up to 21 years old who were certified for free or reduced-price meals at school in Texas during the 2019-2020 school year. It does not matter if you get SNAP benefits.
My child got free or reduced-price meals at school. How do I know if my child’s school participates in the National School Lunch Program?
Contact your school or district and ask if they participate in the National School Lunch Program.
My child is enrolled at a child care center or day care home and receives meals through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Is my child eligible for P-EBT benefits?
No, children that participate in CACFP are not eligible for P-EBT benefits. Eligible students have to be certified for free or reduced-price meals at a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program to receive P-EBT benefits.
Why was my child denied for P-EBT?
Refer to the denial reason on the notice you received in the mail.
- Not Eligible: Based on the information provided by your child’s school or district, your child does not meet the criteria to receive P-EBT. To be eligible for P-EBT the child must have attended school during the 2019-2020 school year and participated in the National School Lunch Program.
- Not Found: Your child was not listed in the information provided to HHS by your child’s school or district for the 2019-2020 school year. Please note that if your child’s information on the application you submitted did not match the records provided by their school and/or district, that could be the reason your child was not approved.
- Already Received Benefits: Your child was denied because we determined they already received P-EBT benefits.
My child was denied for P-EBT. Who do I contact to complain?
If you think your child was denied in error, contact us within 10 days of receiving your denial notice. You will need to provide verification that your child received free or reduced-price meals as a part of the National School Lunch Program during the 2019-2020 school year.
You can either call the P-EBT Call Center at 833-613-6220 or send an email to AES_PEBT_Complaints@hhsc.state.tx.us. If you send an email include a valid phone number and mailing address, as well as your child’s name, date of birth and school name. If you wrote down the Application ID when you applied, please include it. Someone from HHSC will be calling you to address your concern.
What type of proof can I provide to verify my child received free or reduced-price meals during the 2019-2020 school year?
You can provide a copy of the award letter that is sent to parents when their children become eligible for the National School Lunch Program. If you don’t have the award letter, the child nutrition director from your school should be able to provide you with a copy.
If your child goes to a CEP or P2 school where all students in the school automatically participate in the National School Lunch Program, you can provide a copy of a student ID card or report card.
I'm eligible for P-EBT, but I have more questions. Who do I contact?
You can call the P-EBT Call Center at 833-613-6220 Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm Central Time.