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*** Update, Sept. 24*** The P-EBT application closed Sept. 23. The P-EBT benefit was created in response to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The Act required total program completion by Sept. 30. Data matching errors that are not resolved by this time may have resulted in the inability for the State of Colorado to issue a benefit.
For Colorado families that received SNAP benefits and whose children attended a school that participated in the National School Lunch Program, benefits were automatically issued starting Wednesday, July 22. 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 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.
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 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.
In an effort to support Colorado’s families during the COVID-19 epidemic, CDHS and the Colorado 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 have been closed.
In Colorado, P-EBT will support healthy and wholesome meals for approximately 363,000 children who would typically receive free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches while in school. Because schools have been closed due to COVID-19 in March, April and May, some students have experienced increased food insecurity while not being at school to receive meals. P-EBT is a way to re-direct funding that usually supports school meals directly to families.
Both CDHS and the Colorado Department of Education worked proactively with school districts, grocery stores and other vendors, and outreach organizations throughout the state such as Mile High United Way and Hunger Free Colorado to build the infrastructure and supports needed to assist all families eligible for P-EBT in any stage of the benefit process, including application, purchasing, using an EBT card, and any other areas that arise.
Households with students who receive free or reduced-price meals, including through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and those attending a school that operates a Free and Reduced Price Lunch Program during March, April and/or May 2020 were eligible for P-EBT benefits. This also means students who were not already participating in the free or reduced-price meal program could potentially be eligible for P-EBT depending on household size and income; this could be the case for families with school-aged children that have recently lost income during COVID-19.
The P-EBT application opened on July 31 and closed at the end of the day on Sept. 23.
If a family that has eligible children attending a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program and participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), benefits may have been automatically issued for the school-aged children in the household starting July 22. However, if a family did not automatically get P-EBT benefits issued by July 31, or did not receive SNAP for all three of these months (March, April, May), they may have qualified for more P-EBT benefits and should have applied on the online application. Families that did not participate in the SNAP program, and whose children attended a school that participates 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 in mid to late July.
P-EBT benefits were loaded onto an EBT card for the household. If a household already had a Colorado EBT card, the P-EBT benefits were issued onto that card. If the household did not have an EBT card in their possession, a P-EBT card was issued by mail.
P-EBT benefits will be issued as quickly as possible. P-EBT benefits began to be issued in July. As of Sept. 24, EBT replacement cards are still being issued for families who were eligible and approved.
We are hearing that letters explaining P-EBT application results are experiencing longer mail times than five business days due to U.S. Postal Services delays. Please allow five to 10 extra business days to receive this letter.
USDA has approved benefits to eligible students based on the average statewide school days that were missed in March, April and May, which is a maximum of 49 days for Colorado.
Depending on specific student eligibility (for example, the student was not eligible for free or reduced-price meals in March, but is eligible in April and May), the specific P-EBT allotment to the household will be prorated on a monthly basis.
The 49-day breakdown is as follows:
March: 12 days
April: 22 days
May: 15 days
$5.70 per child per school day (to the statewide maximum of 49 days, which would equal a one-time issuance of $279 per eligible child to the EBT card). Benefits will be available for the household to access on the EBT card for one year.
If a student is determined to be eligible for only certain portions of the 49 days, the student’s household will receive an amount prorated to the number of eligible days.
The P-EBT application closed on Sept 23. Additional benefits and meal resources can be found through CDE’s resource list here and Hunger Free Colorado’s resource list here.
You can also send questions by email to PEBT2020@state.co.us.
If you need a replacement EBT card, please call 1-888-328-2656 for assistance.
You can find the guidelines for the 2019-20 school year here.
If the online school is a hybrid-model and participates in the NSLP, the student might have been eligible for P-EBT benefits.
Please call 1-888-328-2656 for assistance.
We have created a toolkit for community partners to share information on how to access P-EBT.
CDHS, along with the Colorado Department of Education and Hunger Free Colorado, hosted an online P-EBT training on June 30. You can watch a replay of the training by clicking either of the video links below. You can also download the training in PDF form, as well as FAQs from the training. All are available in English and Spanish.
The FAQs on this page are available in PDF form. Click either of the boxes below to download.