Colorado P-EBT (Pandemic-EBT)

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*** Update, Jan. 12 ***  P-EBT for the 2020-21 school year is currently in the planning stages with USDA. Our team is working very hard to improve Colorado’s P-EBT program for the future. Further updates will be shared on our website and on CDHS social media channels. Updates will also be communicated through Colorado schools and school districts. 

About Colorado P-EBT

In an effort to support Colorado’s families during the COVID-19 epidemic, the Colorado Department of Human Services and Department of Education teamed up to secure USDA approval to issue Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) benefits to school-age children who would have received free or reduced-price meals during the time that schools were closed for the 2019-20 school year. It was also for children who would have been eligible for free or reduced-price meals in schools for March, April or May of 2020 due to loss of income in those months. Each household with an eligible child received an amount of $5.70 per child per school day on a Colorado EBT card that provided extra food benefits to create healthy, wholesome meal options for kids.

For Colorado families that received SNAP benefits and whose children attended a school that participated in the National School Lunch Program, many benefits were automatically issued starting Wednesday, July 22, 2020.  Families that did not receive the automatic issuance, and whose children attended a school that participated in the National School Lunch Program, received instructions and key information through the family’s school or school district on how to receive those benefits starting in late July.

P-EBT benefits were issued to households as a one-time payment reflecting the days that children would have been in school but were not in March, April and May of 2020 due to COVID-19. 

Colorado supported healthy and wholesome meals for 180,026 children who would typically have received free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches while in school during the spring. $49,945,653 million in P-EBT benefits were distributed to support families buying food from grocery stores, convenience stores and even farmers' markets.  

EBT replacement cards are still being issued for families who have been approved for P-EBT. If you need a replacement EBT card, please call 1-888-328-2656 for assistance.

Resources for families in need

CDHS, the Colorado Department of Education, schools and community organizations are working together to ensure that all youth (18 and under) have nutritious meals during the pandemic. Families are encouraged to consider the following resources during this time. 

  • Locate your local community meal sites: Find no-cost meal sites (for youth 18 and under) near you by contacting your school or visiting KidsFoodFinder.org.
  • Fill out a school meal application: Your household’s free and reduced-price lunch program (school meals) application can help your family access discounted internet and phone costs and secure additional funds for your school. Get an application at your school or district office, or visit your school website for more information. If your household qualifies for school meals, you might also qualify for P-EBT.
  • Additional pandemic resources: Food pantries and other programs (like WIC) offer free food, meals, nutrition support, and more. Visit COFoodFinder.org to learn more!

Frequently asked questions

To read the following FAQ in Spanish, download this PDF.

What is P-EBT?

Recent federal law to support COVID-19 relief created the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program as an important nutritional resource to families who lost access to free or reduced-price school meals as schools across Colorado closed in response to COVID-19 in March, April and May 2020. P-EBT for the 2020-2021 school year is in the planning stages. P-EBT provided households with an EBT card funded with the value of the free school breakfast and lunch reimbursement rates for the days that schools have been closed in March, April, and May, which equals $5.70 per day. Those funds can then be spent on eligible food items at many local and online retail stores. For a list of eligible items, visit the USDA Food and Nutrition Service website.

When will 2020-21 P-EBT benefits be issued?

CDHS and the Colorado Department of Education are currently in the planning stages for the 2020-21 school year P-EBT issuance. Updates will be shared on our website, CDHS social media channels, and through Colorado schools and school districts. 

What is the eligibility criteria?

A school child is eligible for P-EBT when two conditions are met:

  1. The child would have received free or reduced-priced school meals under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and/or the School Breakfast Program (SBP) if not for the COVID health emergency. This includes children who are directly certified, eligible by application or are enrolled in a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) or Provision 2 school AND
  2. The child does not receive free or reduced-price meals at the school because the school is closed or has been operating with reduced attendance or hours for at least 5 consecutive days in the current school year.
Are children who are enrolled in schools that are currently providing meals through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), rather than the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), eligible to receive P-EBT benefits?

Yes. Children enrolled in schools that are closed or have reduced attendance for at least five consecutive days and are currently providing meals to through the SFSP instead of the NSLP and SBP are eligible for P-EBT.

Are children who are no longer enrolled in school and are being homeschooled because of COVID-19 eligible to receive P-EBT? 

No. Children who are no longer enrolled in an NSLP/SBP/SFSP participating school and are being homeschooled are not eligible to receive P-EBT for the 2020-2021 school year.

Can students who receive P-EBT benefits continue to access school meals?

Yes. Students that receive P-EBT benefits can continue to access school meals and are highly encouraged to do so. P-EBT benefits are intended to help with family’s grocery bills and supplement the days in which students could not access school meals.

Are P-EBT benefits in competition with school meal programs?

No. P-EBT is a supplemental program to assist families with their at home grocery bill. Schools should continue to promote their school meal programs alongside P-EBT. It will be important for schools to communicate to families that they are able to, and should, access school meals if they also receive P-EBT benefits. By doing so, families are helping support their school meal program as well as their local grocery community.

What items can be purchased using P-EBT funds?

Funds can be spent on eligible food items at many local retail stores, online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart, as well as farmers’ markets. For a list of eligible items, visit the USDA Food and Nutrition Service website.

Can P-EBT benefits be used with Double Up Food Bucks as well?

Yes, households can earn Double Up Food Bucks (also known as the GusNIP Incentive) and can make qualifying purchases using P-EBT benefits. For more information on Double Up Food Bucks please visit https://doubleupcolorado.org.

I’ve lost my P-EBT card. How do I receive a replacement card?

Clients with P-EBT cards will also have an EBTedge account. A card would be able to be reissued through the county or clients could call FIS to have a new card issued. They may also call 1-888-328-2656 for assistance.

If I got P-EBT benefits, were they considered in public charge?

All households who are eligible for P-EBT may receive it, regardless of immigration status. P-EBT is a pandemic emergency benefit based on free or reduced-price school meal eligibility and is excluded from consideration in public charge. Household information that is used to determine eligibility is protected under both federal and state data privacy practices.