Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT)

Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) is a special SNAP benefit granted by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to further help families during the COVID-19 global health crisis that started in the spring of 2020.

Staring directly at the camera, a school age child has her head on a kitchen table. Next to her is a bowl of fruity cereal, including some loops and milk that spilled onto the table.

Although the federal guidelines have changed over the 2020-2021 school year, P-EBT is currently issued monthly to households with school age children who receive free and reduced-price meals at school through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), but whose school has been closed or has reduced hours for at least 5 consecutive days in the current school year due to the COVID19 pandemic. There isn't an application.

DHS works with the Rhode Island Department of Education and schools throughout Rhode Island to determine who is eligible. 

Starting in May 2021 after a change approved by the federal government, all children under age 6 who also receive SNAP benefits are now eligible for P-EBT.

Eligibility for this benefit is based on the operating status of the schools in the area of the child’s residence.  Since all schools in Rhode Island have been open at least partially since October 1, 2020, all eligible children under age 6 will receive a standard monthly benefit based on 11 days per month of eligibility ($75.02 per month).

The first payment to SNAP children under age 6 was issued on May 20, 2021. This was a retroactive payment for October 2020 through March 2021. The next payment (for April 2021) was issued on May 29, 2021. Going forward, monthly P-EBT payments will be distributed during the third week of each month for the previous month’s benefit. Benefits will be placed on their existing SNAP EBT card each month.

Eligible school-age P-EBT recipients will continue to get their monthly benefits typically during the second week of the month for the previous month (unless noted in an update below). 

If your child(ren) did not receive P-EBT and should have, please contact United Way of RI’s 2-1-1 team by dialing 2-1-1. They will take your information down to give to DHS staff to review. The Department may need corrected information directly from your child(ren)’s school(s) in order to issue these missed benefits. The process may take four to six weeks, but we strive to expedite the process if we can.

See below for updates, summaries of past news and a Frequently Asked Questions document that may be updated periodically to reflect additional questions families have asked.

Frequently Asked Questions

The latest FAQs, last updated in May 2021, can be found below. 

If additional assistance is needed, call United Way of RI’s 2-1-1 team by dialing 2-1-1. Households can also check on their balance by calling 1-888-979-9939.

Rhode Island received approval to extend Pandemic-EBT benefits (P-EBT) through the summer months of July and August 2021. As they did throughout the school year, RIDE and DHS are working together to distribute P-EBT throughout the summer.

The summer P-EBT benefits are available to all school age children who were eligible to receive or qualified for free or reduced priced meals at their schools through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) during the 2020-2021 school year and children under the age of 6 who also receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

For school age students, the first payment will be issued on existing P-EBT or SNAP EBT cards on or about July 16 and the second payment will be issued on or about August 17. For children under age 6 who live in a SNAP household, the payments will be added to their household’s SNAP EBT card on or about July 29 and August 27.

The benefit amount is $187.50 for each child each month.  

Students who are already eligible for free or reduced price meals do not need to complete any additional applications and will be issued summer P-EBT benefits automatically. Students that are not currently eligible, but think they might be now are encouraged to complete a Meal Benefit application by August 27, 2021 in order to be eligible to receive Summer P-EBT.

Students who are already eligible for free or reduced price meals do not need to complete any additional applications and will be issued summer P-EBT benefits automatically. Students that are not currently eligible, but think they might be now are encouraged to complete a Meal Benefit application by August 27, 2021 in order to be eligible to receive Summer P-EBT. 

Today’s announcement is a continuation of Rhode Island’s leadership in distributing P-EBT benefits. Rhode Island was first in the country to issue P-EBT in the spring of 2020 and one of only 20 states to issue P-EBT benefits for August and September of 2020. After FNS agreed to resume P-EBT under new eligibility guidelines, RI was among the first three states to resume these benefits. 

Below are responses to frequently asked questions and a flyer with information about the RI Summer Meals program. 

May P-EBT benefits for school age children will be issued on or about June 16th. June P-EBT benefits for school age children will be issued on or about July 15h. With holidays during these months shortening the time to prepare, the updated schedule is necessary to ensure that DHS receives a complete and accurate list of eligible students from all schools.

As a reminder, please note the State expects a reduction in school-age students who are eligible for P-EBT with the ongoing transition to in-person learning throughout the State. School-age students who are still hybrid or distance learning who qualify for the National School Lunch Program are still eligible for P-EBT.

Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) benefits to school-age students who did not receive their April P-EBT earlier this month should receive them on or about May 29, 2021.

The Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS) issued April P-EBT benefits on May 14, 2021 to more than 35,000 school-age students based on a list the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) supplies using information it receives from schools throughout Rhode Island.

Since submission of the initial list, a number of students had their P-EBT eligibility status updated by the schools. DHS and RIDE quickly worked together to pay the students who were missing from the first list with the payment that will be issued as early as tomorrow. Hybrid or distance learning is a requirement for school-age children to receive P-EBT. With the shift of students returning to in-person learning after spring break (April 19-23), there was a delay in getting an accurate learning status for all students. DHS has worked with RIDE to ensure there is a timely collection of data from schools.

Please note the State expects a reduction in school-age students who are eligible for P-EBT with the ongoing transition to in-person learning throughout the State. School-age students who are still hybrid or distance learning who qualify for the National School Lunch Program are still eligible for P-EBT. DHS will pay the May P-EBT benefits for school-age children during the second week of June.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service recently increase the P-EBT rates for eligible school age children. To reflect the new rates, giving out P-EBT benefits for January 2021 was moved to the third week in February.

The new P-EBT rate is $75.02 per month for all students in a hybrid learning schedule (such as some days virtual and some in-person). If a student is learning virtually every day of the week, the new rate is $6.82 per day for each day that school is in session each month based on RI's school calendar. 

Also during February, a supplemental payment was given to those eligible children who already received P-EBT retroactively for October, November and December 2020. That was done to reflect the change in rates. 

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) granted Rhode Island approval to again issue P-EBT to SNAP and non-SNAP households with one or more school-age children who receive free and reduced-price meals at school through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), but were unable to receive those meals at school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students are entitled to this benefit if the school is closed or has been operating with reduced attendance or hours for at least 5 consecutive days in the current school year.

We were among the first three states to resume P-EBT. Rhode Island was the first state in the country to issue P-EBT in the spring of 2020 and one of only 20 states to issue P-EBT benefits for August and September of 2020.

An average of 42,895 school-age children from SNAP and non-SNAP families received retroactive P-EBT benefits for October, November and December 2020 in January 2021. We are working as quickly as possible with the RI Department of Education (RIDE) and schools to issue payments to additional children who may not have been on the initial monthly lists given to the Department, but it could take four to six weeks to resolve.

DHS continues to work with RIDE to also receive monthly student information from the schools. It is possible a household could receive different amounts if there are multiple eligible school-age children based on the learning model for that child, and that the amounts may change from month to month based on the child’s learning schedule. Benefits will either be placed on the student's current P-EBT card or SNAP EBT card.

If a student is newly eligible and is not receiving SNAP benefits, a P-EBT card will be mailed to the student at the address on file with the school. If a household no longer has their P-EBT card from the Spring or Fall of 2020, they should call 1-888-979-9939 to request a new card. Households can also check on their balance by calling the same phone number.