FAQ: Pandemic EBT

Frequently Asked Questions

What are P-EBT and Summer P-EBT food benefits?

The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) and Summer P-EBT programs provide benefits to students who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. P-EBT and Summer P-EBT are temporary food benefit programs operating during the COVID-19 pandemic for days school buildings are closed.

P-EBT is also available to certain young children who are enrolled in SNAP and live in a county where there is at least one school operating a hybrid or fully virtual learning model. Summer P-EBT will be administered to all children under the age of 6 who are enrolled in SNAP.

Who is eligible for P-EBT and Summer P-EBT benefits?

Both the child/student and the local school must meet the criteria detailed HERE to be eligible for P-EBT. Children that are homeschooled are not eligible for P-EBT.

How much is the P-EBT and Summer P-EBT food benefit?

P-EBT benefits will be issued based on school enrollment data and the predominant learning model. The benefit amount may change month-to-month depending on the school’s learning model per month. 

  • Fully remote — Eligible students who are in schools where most students were fully remote for the month will receive $119.35 monthly for September 2020 through June 2021. 
  • Hybrid — Eligible students who are in schools where most students were operating a hybrid model will receive $59.68 monthly for September 2020 through June 2021.

Eligible children will also receive additional benefits throughout the summer months that will be administered in September. Eligible children will receive up to $375 for the summer months 

When will P-EBT and Summer P-EBT benefits be issued?

Benefits will be issued for the 2020 – 2021 school year in three payments, beginning in June 2021. The second payment will occur one month after the first payment and the third payment will follow one month after that.

Summer P-EBT Benefits will be issued at the end of September 2021 and will be retroactive for July and August.

How are P-EBT benefits issued? Do I need to apply?

If your eligible child is already enrolled in SNAP:

  • Your family will get P-EBT automatically on your Pine Tree Card if enrolled in SNAP in February 2021 or later.
  • Families should hold onto their P-EBT card(s) because future benefits may be loaded onto the same card.

If your eligible school-age child is already enrolled in free or reduced-price school meals AND your address is up to date:

  • Your family will get P-EBT automatically.
  • Each child will receive their own card.
  • Cards will arrive in an unmarked envelope so please be on the lookout.
  • Families should hold onto their P-EBT card(s) because future benefits may be loaded onto the same card.

If you recently moved and/or your address is not up to date with school administration, your card may have been mailed to your child’s school.

When I get my child’s P-EBT card, do I need to activate it?

Yes, you will need to activate the P-EBT card by calling the phone number on the card. You will choose a PIN, like with a debit card or bank card. When you go shopping, you will use this PIN in order to use the card.

When you call to activate the card, it will ask for your child’s date of birth and the last four digits of their social security number. If your child does not have a social security number OR if your school did not provide the student’s social security number, enter 9999 instead.

Will getting this benefit count in a public charge test? Does immigration status matter?

No. P-EBT will not count in a public charge test. All eligible students are eligible for P-EBT regardless of immigration status. Visit ProtectingImmigrantFamilies.org for information about what public benefits impact the public charge test.

I have been receiving grab ‘n go meals at my local school. Can I still receive P-EBT?

Yes, children and teens receiving P-EBT can also receive free meals from school and community sites– they are separate programs. To find a summer meal site near you, visit fns.usda.gov/meals4kids, text Summer Meals to 97779, or call 866-348-6479.

In the 2019-2020 school year I received P-EBT benefits. Will the benefits for the 2020-2021 school year be loaded onto the same P-EBT card?

If your family was enrolled in SNAP in February 2021 or later you will receive P-EBT benefits on your Pine Tree Card.  If your family was enrolled in SNAP before February 2021 you will receive a new P-EBT card for each eligible child with the child’s name on the card. Each month, benefits will automatically be loaded onto that card for as long as P-EBT operates.

In the 2020-2021 school year I received P-EBT benefits. Will the benefits for Summer P-EBT be loaded onto the same P-EBT card?

Yes, benefits will automatically be loaded onto that card for as long as P-EBT and Summer P-EBT operate.

My child received P-EBT during the 2019-2020 and/or the 2020-2021 school year(s) and we haven’t used all of our benefits yet. Will these benefits expire?

P-EBT benefits expire 274 days after they are loaded onto your P-EBT or Pinetree Card.

How do I know if my family is eligible for SNAP?

You can use this online benefit calculator to determine eligibility: https://www.ptla.org/maine-food-supplement-estimators.

You can also text the word FOOD to 74544 to complete a quick screening for SNAP.

Visit the Office for Family Independence to learn more.

I did not receive a P-EBT card in the mail. Who do I contact?

If you have not received your P-EBT card, please visit https://www.pinetreecard.com/meebtclient/# and report a missing card.  Due to postal delays, EBT and P-EBT cards are taking 10-14 days to arrive by mail.

You may also consider checking in with your child’s school to see if the card was sent there.

If my child receives P-EBT, can I still get food pantry benefits?

Yes, your participation in government programs does not affect your ability to get food from a food pantry. Visit gsfb.org/get-help or Contact 211 for information on food pantries in your area.

Where can I redeem P-EBT benefits?

P-EBT benefits are provided on a card that can be used like a debit card to purchase food at SNAP/Pine Tree Card authorized grocery stores. Most Maine grocers accept this card.  SNAP and P-EBT benefits can be used for online purchasing at Amazon and Amazon Fresh and Walmart for delivery or curbside pick-up purchases. 

I think my child is eligible for free or reduced-price meals but we haven’t enrolled. Can I still get P-EBT?

No, P-EBT enrollment for school year 2020-2021 has ended. However, you may be eligible for Summer P-EBT, but your child must have been enrolled in school during the last month of school AND you must apply for free or reduced-price meals with your child’s school. Contact your school district to apply. School Meal Applications can also be downloaded HERE.

How do I know if my child is eligible for free or reduced-price lunch?

The table below shows the income guidelines for free and reduced-price lunches. You will be eligible for P-EBT whether you received free OR reduced-price meals. CLICK HERE for more information.

For more information about P-EBT:

Please visit the Office for Family Independence.