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. 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 that 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 at school in Texas during the 2019-20 school year.
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 will receive 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, will get funds by May 22.
Other families will get P-EBT funds beginning in June. Your application will be processed after HHSC receives the list of children getting free or reduced-price meals.
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.
If I have more than one child, will I get different cards for each child?
No, benefits for each eligible child will be on one card.
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.