If you’re wondering if Florida families are getting P-EBT again in 2021, the answer is YES. A new round of Pandemic EBT Funding has been approved for Florida students to cover Summer 2021 through the Summer Pandemic Electronic Benefits Program (Summer P-EBT). Although the program is for summer 2021, funds are just now being issued in November and December.
The State of Florida (DCF, DACS and DOE) is working quickly to issue Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits across Florida. Benefits were issued beginning on Wednesday, November 24, 2021 and will continue over the coming weeks. Recipients should anticipate a staggered disbursement through the beginning of 2022.
It is our interpretation that ALL eligible students on free and reduced lunch will receive these funds – they cover Summer 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) deems all schools closed for the 2021 P-EBT covered summer period. In other words, it does not matter if you were in eSchool or distance learning or regular school or quarantined, as long as you were enrolled in 2020 – 2021 and received free or reduced lunch. Read on for a P-EBT Florida Update for 2021.
**This article is based on information available as of the date of publication, limited details are available, especially regarding student eligibility. The purpose of this article is to let parents know If you already have a P EBT Card from this past year do not throw it away!! If you do not already have a card, keep an eye out for these envelopes so you know it isn’t junk mail. Some details are still pending and this article will be updated accordingly as information is released.**
Here is a summary of what we know so far about P-EBT Florida Summer 2021.
- What is the P-EBT Program?
- Who is eligible for Summer P-EBT Funds?
- How do I know if my student or school is eligible?
- Are homeschool, private school, or Florida Virtual School (FLVS) students eligible for P-EBT benefits?
- Do I need to apply to receive a P-EBT card?
- What if I already receive SNAP benefits?
- When are the P-EBT Deposit Dates in Florida?
- What should I look for in the mail?
- What if I don’t receive a P-EBT Card and think my child is eligible?
- How much is Summer P-EBT?
- How do I use the P-EBT card?
- What is my P-EBT Login or how can I check the balance?
- What can I purchase with P-EBT benefits?
- When do P-EBT cards expire?
- Double your money through the Fresh Access Bucks Program
- More information and helpful links
- Related Articles
What is the P-EBT Program?
Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) is a program of the federal government through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides funds to households with children who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to school closures. Families who are eligible for the free and reduced-price school meals program under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the Community Eligibility Provision may be eligible to receive food assistance through Florida P-EBT.
The parents of eligible school children receive temporary emergency nutrition benefits loaded on EBT cards that are used to purchase food. This “Florida emergency food stamp program” is intended to help families with food insecurity. While we do have summer meal programs at local schools, there are still many families who do not have transportation to summer lunch distribution sites.
Beginning in Summer 2020, Florida pEBT Benefits were issued to eligible Florida students to cover time periods when school lunches were not available through the National School Lunch Program. The original Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) cards were issued to parents in June 2020 with $313 per student to cover Spring 2020 when all Florida public schools were closed. Then in spring 2021 P-EBT funds were issued again to Florida students who were not attending school in-person during the 2020 – 2021 school year due to the pandemic – a delayed start date, a required quarantine, or eLearning. The Florida Summer EBT program 2021 is the third set of funds that have been issued.
Who is eligible for Summer P-EBT Funds?
Students in grades K-12 are eligible to receive these funds if they were on free or reduced-price meals last school year (2020-2021) or if they became eligible over the summer. In addition, for children in child care, children under age 6 who are enrolled in SNAP as of the end of school year 2020-2021 are also eligible to receive funds.
Polk County Public Schools
In Polk County, ALL traditional public schools are part of the Community Eligibility Provision program and receive free school meals. This means that if your child was enrolled in a Polk County School in 2020-21, in grades K-12, you should receive these funds. Some charter schools do not qualify – only students who receive free or reduced lunch at those schools will receive a card.
All Other Florida Schools
This is a statewide program, not just limited to Polk County. In all other counties in Florida, you would need to check the list of schools below for more information. If your child already receives free or reduced lunch, either through the application or their entire school, you should be eligible. (We cover Polk County, Florida and do not know specifics for other counties).
How do I know if my student or school is eligible?
Click here to check the list of Florida Schools Participating in the National School Lunch Program. Look for the blue button that says “National Schools Lunch Program Schools.”
This will open a spreadsheet that you can search. Look in columns E and F. If either says Yes, your entire school is included. If it says No, you will only receive a card if you applied for and received free or reduced lunch during the 2020-2021 school year. If your school is not listed at all, they are not part of the National School Lunch Program.
Are homeschool, private school, or Florida Virtual School (FLVS) students eligible for P-EBT benefits?
Eligibility is based on schools that provide free or reduced-price meals to enrolled students through the National School Lunch Program. Private school students may be eligible IF the school participates in the National School Lunch Program. Use the link above to search for your school. Florida Virtual School (FLVS) students are not eligible. Homeschool students are not eligible.
Do I need to apply to receive a P-EBT card?
No further action is required on your part to receive your Pandemic EBT Florida 2021 Summer benefits – funds will be automatically issued to families with eligible children.
If you do not currently receive SNAP benefits, a new P-EBT card will be mailed to the address on file with your child’s school district. Funds may come on one card for the entire household, or separate cards for each child.
What if I already receive SNAP benefits?
For existing Florida Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) customers with a child who is eligible, the P-EBT benefit will likely be added to your current EBT card automatically. For Medicaid and/or TANF recipients with a child receiving free and reduced-price school meals, the P-EBT benefit will be mailed to the address on your Medicaid and/or TANF file. No further action is required on your part to receive your P-EBT benefits.
When are the P-EBT Deposit Dates in Florida?
Benefits were issued directly to clients beginning on Wednesday, November 24, 2021 and will continue over the coming weeks. Recipients should anticipate a staggered disbursement through the beginning of 2022.
- Households already receiving SNAP benefits will see the additional P-EBT amount on their existing EBT cards.
- Households that received P-EBT for School Year 2020-2021 will receive benefits on their existing P-EBT Card.
- Households that do not have an EBT or P-EBT card will receive a card in the mail with the benefits automatically loaded.
What should I look for in the mail?
Look for a plain white envelope with a South Dakota return address (or other unidentified return address).
Below is a photo of the envelopes that parents have received with previous p ebt Florida 2021 Cards. Cards were mailed in a plain white envelope, some had windows for the address and return address, and some were plain.
Some have been addressed to the student, and some have been addressed to the parent. Do not throw it away, it is legitimate!!
What if I don’t receive a P-EBT Card and think my child is eligible?
First, check the PCPS Parent Portal to be sure your mailing address is correct. If you are in a different school district in Florida, check to be sure the correct address is on file with the district.
Allow the state to fully issue Summer P-EBT benefits by early 2022 before inquiring about your benefit status. If you have not received your P-EBT benefit by early next year, or your student has been determined not eligible for the P-EBT benefit or you think you received an incorrect amount of P-EBT, you can complete the online P EBT Florida inquiry form to request a review of your student’s eligibility (look for the link near the bottom of the page).
If you have questions about your student’s P-EBT benefit, you may call 1-833-311-0321. Check the DCF website for updates.
IMPORTANT!! Do not call your school or the district. This is NOT a program run by Polk County Public Schools. Neither your school or the district will be able to issue your benefits.
How much is Summer P-EBT?
You will be issued $375 for each eligible student.
How do I use the P-EBT card?
P-EBT cards are used like a credit or debit card to purchase food. Benefits can be used at retailers displaying a Quest or SNAP logo/signage.
What is my P-EBT Login or how can I check the balance?
Current SNAP recipients can log in at myflorida.com/accessflorida/ to check your balance. You can also use the ebtEDGE App or the Providers App (formerly Fresh EBT), or call the EBT Customer Service number on the back of your card to check your balance.
What can I purchase with P-EBT benefits?
Households can use P-EBT benefits to buy bread, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, dairy, and plants and seeds to grow food for your household to eat. Households cannot use P-EBT benefits to buy nonfood items such as pet foods, soaps, paper products, household supplies, grooming items, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, vitamins, medicines, food to eat in the store, or hot foods.
When do P-EBT cards expire?
Pursuant to federal guidance, current P-EBT benefit funding will expire when activity on the card is inactive for 365 days (12 months). Beginning in October 2021, benefits will expire after 274 days (9 months). If benefits are added to your current EBT card, the P-EBT benefits will be used first.
Double your money through the Fresh Access Bucks Program
You can double your SNAP/EBT or P-EBT money through the Fresh Access Bucks program offered at farmer’s markets, produce stands, CSAs, mobile markets, and community grocery outlets across Florida.
Here in Polk County, visit the Lakeland Downtown Farmers Curb Market to double the SNAP with free FAB bucks for Florida grown fruits and veggies sold by market vendors. Stop by the tent at 117 N. Kentucky Ave. to learn more. The Market is open on Saturdays from 8 AM to 2 PM.
For other counties in Florida, visit the Fresh Access Bucks website to find a participating market near you.
Don’t need the money?
The DCF website says: “P-EBT benefit cards should be destroyed if not needed. P-EBT benefits cannot be donated or transferred to anyone else. The benefit is for the eligible student only and can only be used for the student and their household.”
(We’re going against these instructions, but you could also use it to purchase non-perishable food items to donate to a local non-profit organization feeding children such KidsPack).
More information and helpful links
More information and helpful links
Check out our Education Guide for Lakeland + Polk County for other education topics including public schools, private schools, homeschooling, tutoring + test prep, school calendars, colleges, and more.
Check out our Community Resources Guide for Lakeland + Polk County to find places to volunteer and donate, community assistance, foster care, and more.