Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program

New Updates (as of February 2021)

The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program helps families purchase food for children whose access to free or reduced-priced meals at school has been impacted by COVID-19 because students are learning virtually, outside of brick-and-mortar schools. P-EBT is a collaboration between the NC Department of Health and Human Services and the NC Department of Public Instruction.  The P-EBT program is authorized by the Unites States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The information below gives a brief overview of what the program is, who is eligible, and how families will receive the benefit.

The 2020-2021 school year extension of P-EBT benefits has some changes to meet the USDA requirements. North Carolina aims to provide P-EBT benefits to as many children as possible under the USDA’s guidance and we wish we could help every family.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

P-EBT Flyer/Fact Sheet (English) P-EBT Flyer/Fact Sheet (Spanish)

Eligibility and Benefits

Eligibility to Receive P-EBT for the 2020-2021 School Year

Eligibility to Receive P-EBT for the 2020-2021 School Year

Families do not need to apply for P-EBT. School and student information will be used to determine eligibility. Eligibility will be determined through student and learning circumstances. Students will need to meet specific criteria for both.

P-EBT Eligibility Infographic

Student Circumstances

A student is eligible for the P-EBT program if their public school, private school, or charter school participates in the National School Lunch Program and the student is eligible to receive free or reduce-priced meals at school during the 2020-21 school year.

To be eligible for P-EBT, a student must meet these two criteria:

  1. Be enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and
  2. Be eligible for free or reduced-price meals and

Student eligibility is determined by any of the following:

  • Direct Certification (household receives FNS benefits)
  • Categorical Eligibility (homeless, migrant, foster, etc.)
  • Participation in a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) School (where all students receive meals at no cost)
  • Household Applications for Free/Reduced-Price Meals

If you have questions about the National School Lunch Program and free and reduced-price meals or wish to apply, please contact your child’s school for more information.

The student must meet BOTH of the following learning circumstances:

  1. The student’s school was closed or has been operating with reduced attendance for at least 5 consecutive days during the 2020 to 2021 school year, AND
  2. The student is learning in a “remote learning mode” (all virtual instruction) or in a “hybrid learning mode” (combination of virtual and in-person instruction) during the month.

Eligibility and benefit amount are determined by a student’s learning circumstances

There will be a new eligibility requirement that is different from the last issuance of P-EBT.  A student’s eligibility and the P-EBT amount they will receive is now dependent on how many days they were in virtual learning instruction each month.

The student’s learning mode is assessed each month using information reported by the schools.

  1. Remote learning mode (all virtual instruction)
    Students in virtual instruction 17 or more days, or 100% of the instructional days in a month, are considered to be in a remote learning mode. North Carolina determined on average there are 17 instructional days per month for an 11-month school year. A student who is in virtual instruction 17 or more days will be identified as being in a remote learning mode. Please note, an absence does not count toward that 17-day requirement.
  2. Hybrid learning mode (combination of virtual and in-person instruction)
    Students with more than 1 day of virtual instruction and less than 16 days, or less than 100% of instructional days in a month, are considered to being a hybrid learning mode.

For the above definitions, students learning outside their school (remotely) due to COVID-19 are considered to be in virtual instruction even if they do not have online access for virtual instruction.

P-EBT Amount and When to Expect the Benefit

P-EBT Amount and When to Expect the Benefit

It is the state’s goal to issue P-EBT benefits retroactively to students who were eligible between the months of August to December 2020. Notices will be sent to eligible households notifying them of their eligibility through the mail.

These benefits will be issued a month at a time over several days beginning in February 2021 to those who already have an EBT card (FNS or P-EBT). Those who do not have the EBT card and are eligible during these months should anticipate receiving cards in through the mail service in February or March 2021.

For the rest of the 2020-2021 school year, benefits will be issued retroactively on a monthly basis starting in March 2021 as long the student remains eligible. The benefits received in March will be for January and February 2021 and will also be issued a month at a time and staggered over several days. March benefits will be issued in April and staggered over several days, April benefits will be issued in May and so on. Benefits will continue to be retroactively provided every month as long as the student remains eligible.  

Another change for the 2020-2021 school year is the P-EBT benefit daily rate of $5.86 has been increased to $6.82 to include the value of an afterschool snack in addition to the breakfast and lunch a student would receive if they were receiving free or reduced meals each day they were learning in person.

The student’s learning mode will determine the amount they will receive each month.

  • Students in the remote learning mode (all virtual instruction) in the month will receive a benefit of $115.94 for that month. The remote learning mode amount will stay the same month to month.

    Calculated as $6.82 x 17 days for a total of $115.94.

    If there are less than 17 instructional days in a month, and a student receives virtual instruction 100% of those days, they will be considered being in a remote learning mode and will receive $115.94. If a student receives virtual instruction more than 17 days in one month, they will also receive the remote learning amount of $115.94.
     

  • Students in the hybrid learning mode (combination of virtual and in-person instruction) will receive the hybrid amount. The hybrid amount can change month to month and is determined by the average number of days North Carolina schools using a hybrid schedule conducted virtual instruction for that month.

    Calculated as $6.82 x the average number of days each month. For example, if a student is in a hybrid learning mode, and the state average was 9 days for January 2021, the student would receive $61.38 for the month of January.

    If there are less than 17 instructional days in a month, the student will be in a hybrid learning mode if they were in virtual instruction less than 100% of the instructional days for that month (7 of the 8 instructional days).

Since the allotment is based on a monthly calculated average, the benefit amounts may change month to month. The table below provides the amount an eligible student would receive depending on if they are identified as being in a remote or hybrid learning mode each month. This table will be updated each month as the average is calculated.

Month Remote Learning Benefit Amount Avg number of days NC schools were learning in hybrid learning mode Hybrid Learning Benefit Amount
August 2020 $115.94 9 $61.38
September 2020 $115.94 9 $61.38
October 2020 $115.94 9 $61.38
November 2020 $115.94 9 $61.38
December 2020 $115.94 9 $61.38
January 2021 $115.94 TBD TBD
February 2021 $115.94 TBD TBD
March 2021 $115.94 TBD TBD
April 2021 $115.94 TBD TBD
May 2021 $115.94 TBD TBD
June 2021 $115.94 TBD TBD

If a student is fully remote (either by parent choice, or school is in Plan C) for a month – the benefit is $115.94 regardless if there are more or less than 17 days in that month. NOTE: If an eligible student receives the hybrid amount for a month, and the student was 100% virtual for all of the instructional days in that month, they need to contact the teacher/school to determine what needs to be adjusted in the attendance record. Once the attendance record is adjusted, supplemental funds will be provided in future months for the month(s) that were incorrect. The list of eligible schools will be available soon. Please check back next week for the updated report.

NOTE: Eligible schools that have not submitted school calendar data to DHHS or who do not currently utilize PowerSchool to input data may not be reflected in the school eligibility report.

Please note students who previously received benefits in August and / or September 2020 will not receive the exact amount(s) listed in the chart above because benefits have already been provided. Some students may receive a small supplemental amount if the amount received was lower than the amount a student was eligible for based on their learning mode for that month.

There are several ways to check your EBT card balance 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Using your card number, you can:

  • Visit www.ebtedge.com. Click on More Information under EBT Cardholders.
  • Download the ebtEDGE mobile app. The app is available as a free download on the Apple Store and Google Play.
  • Call 1-888-622-7328.
How Households Will Receive the Benefits

How Households Will Receive the Benefits

P-EBT benefits will be provided automatically on a debit-like card. This card will be sent through the mail service. The P-EBT card functions like a standard EBT card, and the same guidelines apply. The P-EBT card can be used to purchase food items at EBT authorized food and grocery retailers, including most major grocery stores.

Eligible families already receiving Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) benefits can expect to receive an additional benefit on their existing EBT card. Families who received P-EBT previously and are eligible under the new criteria can expect to receive additional benefits on their original P-EBT card. Sometimes a new P-EBT card will be mailed even for those who already have cards and the benefits will be issued to the new card.

P-EBT cards for foster care students will be mailed to the local county Division of Social Services office that has custody of the foster care student. The student's foster care social worker will provide the card or assist with transfer of the card to the student’s new placement. P-EBT cards for homeless and migrant students will be mailed to the address on record for the student at the student’s school.

How to Use the P-EBT Card

How to Use the P-EBT Card

Families receiving a P-EBT card will need to activate the card and create a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to use the card.
You can activate or order a new card in one of the following ways:

  1. Visit www.ebtedge.com. Click on “More Information” under EBT Cardholder. You will be prompted to login and/or register your account.
  2. Download the ebtEDGE mobile app. The app is available on Apple Store and Google Play.
  3. Call 1-888-622-7328 and follow the prompts to activate your card and select a PIN.

To activate your card, you will be asked to enter the date of birth (DOB) associated with the card. Enter the DOB of the youngest student in the household that attends a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program. Enter the DOB as two digits for the month, two digits for the day and four digits for the year. For example, January 24, 2014 would be entered as 01242014. If there are multiple children in your household it may be necessary to try each child’s DOB to successfully activate your P-EBT card. Once the card is activated, you may create your PIN.

If you have lost or destroyed your card, log into www.ebtEdge.com, utilize the ebtEDGE mobile app, or please contact the North Carolina EBT Call Center at 1-888-622-7328 to order a new card. The P-EBT card can be used to purchase food items at EBT authorized food and grocery retailers, including most major grocery stores. Similar to FNS benefits, hot foods or foods that are already prepared cannot be purchased with your P-EBT benefits.

Other Information

Other Information

For the latest information on COVID-19, visit nc.gov/covid19. If you have questions about P-EBT, please read the Frequently Asked Questions. You can also call the NC EBT Call Center at 1-866-719-0141 for further assistance.

For information on other food resources, please call 2-1-1 or 1-888-892-1162.