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FAQ: Qualifying Virginia families to receive Pandemic-EBT cards

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For Virginia families with students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, a new program will help put more cash in their pockets for groceries.

The P-EBT program, or the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program, is part of a food assistance plan that is being implemented statewide.

1. What is P-EBT?

P-EBT is a temporary food benefit program available to Virginia families with students who were eligible for SNAP benefits, free or reduced lunches or students at CEP schools will receive benefits. Since all HCPS schools are CEP schools, it’s believed that all HCPS students will get P-EBT benefits.

Households do not have to apply for the program.

2. What is the purpose of P-EBT?

To supplement existing nutrition programs for low-income households during the pandemic.

The program will bot replace meals provided by schools during unexpected closures, like meals that are currently provided by schools or summer meal programs.

3. Who is eligible?

Eligible households:

  • Include eligible students who, if not for their school being closed, would receive free or reduced school meals
  • The student’s school or school division has been closed for at least five days in a row

As stated above, P-EBT is available to Virginia families with students who were eligible for SNAP benefits, free or reduced lunches or students at CEP schools will receive benefits. Since all HCPS schools are CEP schools, it’s believed that all HCPS students will get P-EBT benefits.

4. How do I know if I am eligible?

Schools will provide information on eligible students directly do VDSS. If you think there are eligible students in your household but you do not receive P-EBT by the middle of June, call 804-726-7000.

5. My family needs food now — what do we do?

To find locations of schools or community locations that are distributing meals to students, text FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877.

Students and families who receive P-EBT should continue to participate in other food assistance programs, such as meals provided by schools. P-EBT does not replace other assistance.

If your family does not already receive SNAP benefits, you can apply for assistance right away by visiting the CommonHelp website or by calling 1-855-635-4370. For information about other food assistance in your area, call 2-1-1.

6. How much will eligible families receive?

P-EBT benefits are calculated at a rate of $5.70 per day per student for the 66 days that Virginia schools will be closed.

Eligible families can receive up to $376 per eligible student. Students who became eligible after March 13 will receive a lower amount. Benefits are for students only, not other children in the house.

Households that are eligible will get benefits for the entire period their students were eligible, even if they don’t get benefits until the end of May or June.

7. When will P-EBT benefits be available?

For eligible families currently receiving SNAP benefits, your P-EBT will be added to your EBT card in the next two weeks. If you do not currently receive SNAP, you will receive a P-EBT card in the mail in the next four to six weeks.

People who live in the same area as other children who attend the same schools as their children may not get their benefits at the same time.

8. I’ve moved — now what?

The Virginia Dept. of Social Services will use the current mailing address on your student’s school record.

If that address isn’t correct, the P-EBT card will be marked as undeliverable and VDSS will work with the school division t=to contact you to get the correct address.

Contact your school district if you think that your address is not up to date.

If you have not been contacted by mid-June, 804-726-7000.

9. How often will I get P-EBT benefits?

P-EBT payments are a one-time payment.

10. Where can I use my P-EBT benefits?

Any store that accepts SNAP.

11. What can I buy with my P-EBT benefits?

Any SNAP-eligible food. Most food is SNAP eligible, except for prepared foods and foods sold hot. You can find a list of eligible SNAP foods here.

12. Do I have to use my P-EBT benefits all at once?

No. The money will carry over month to month for up to one year.

13. What if I don’t want P-EBT benefits?

You should destroy your P-EBT card when you receive it. They are not transferrable.

You can destroy the card by cutting through the magnetic stripe.

If you change your mind, your P-EBT benefits will be available to you for up to a year. You can call 1-866-281-2448 to get your benefits.

14. What if I lose my P-EBT card?

  • You can call 1-866-281-2448 to report your card lost and request a replacement
  • If you are registered through ConnectEBT, you can order your card online
  • If you have the ConnectEBT app, you can order from your phone

15. How do I PIN my card?

  • You can call 1-866-281-2448
  • Log on to your ConnectEBT account
  • Through the ConnectEBT app

Further instructions will be included with your card.


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