(KSWB) — The final round of pandemic-era food relief benefits is headed to help households across California get groceries.
The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program was a federal initiative to help low-income families set food on the table while schools and childcare facilities were closed through a stipend for groceries.
Two rounds were issued during the pandemic, with the third being distributed before summer this year, according to the California Department of Education. Cards for a fourth and final round of P-EBT for the 2022-23 school year is currently being distributed to qualifying households.
According to the California Department of Social Services, there will be two final issuances of the benefits, one in September and a second in October. Children will receive as much as $90 each month.
All of the P-EBT 4.0 cards are expected to be delivered to participating families by Sept. 30, 2023.
For those that believe they may be eligible to receive the food stipend, here’s what to know about the final round of the pandemic-era benefit:
Who is eligible for P-EBT 4.0?
Families are eligible based on the children meeting certain requirements, according to DSS. Cards are automatically sent to eligible families based on information from other programs they’re already enrolled in, officials say, including CalFresh and free or reduced price school meals.
For those with children under the age of 6, P-EBT 4.0 benefits will be sent to households that also received CalFresh benefits between August 2022 and May 2023. School-aged children over the age of 6 are eligible under the following criteria:
- Went to a school that participated in the School Breakfast Program or National School Lunch Program during the 2022-23 academic year.
- Eligible for free or reduced school lunches during the 2022-23 academic year.
- Attended school online 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years or had at least five excused absences in one month.
If your child had fewer than five excused absences in one month during the last school last year or did not attend a school enrolled in the National School Lunch Program, they may still be eligible for benefits that are not automatically distributed.
Those that believe they may be eligible, but are not sure if benefits are on route can call the P-EBT helpline at 877-328-9677. The line is staffed from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
When will households receive the P-EBT cards?
Cards for both groups of children were mailed out starting in August. New cardholders that were eligible for August 2022 to May 2023 will receive their card in September. The cards were shipped in alphabetical order based on the eligible child’s first name, according to DSS.
How much money is going to each child?
The amount families can receive will vary depending on their qualifications, DSS said.
With the benefits, school-aged children will get a standard amount of $8.18 for each day that the student did not attend school in person during last school year. The rule extends to days a child attended school online or had more than five excused absences in one month.
School-aged children can receive a maximum of $90 with the September and October issuances, the department added.
For households with children under the age of 6, they should have received one issuance earlier this year during the months of January to May. Young children’s families received as much as $36 per month, according to DSS.
What can P-EBT be used for?
The P-EBT 4.0 cards can be used at most supermarkets, farmers markets and online grocery retailers. However, It cannot be used on hot meals or restaurants.
Families need to use their benefits at least once every 365 days to keep the card active, DSS says. The card will expire if it is not used at least once within a year of receiving it.
Will using P-EBT affect immigration or public charge statues?
P-EBT will not impact immigration statues or deem the recipient a public charge, according to DSS. It will also not impact other benefits a household may receive.
What other food assistance is available for Californians aside from P-EBT?
California has many assistance programs to help families keep their children fed, including cash aid, CalFresh, free and reduced school lunch. To find out more about what programs are available and submit applications for them, you can visit the website BenefitsCal.com.