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FAQs for the general public | FAQs for schools and school districts | FAQs for county human services | Resources and trainings
In an effort to support Colorado’s families during the COVID-19 epidemic, the Colorado Department of Human Services and Department of Education have 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 for the 2019-2020 school year. It is also for children who would have been eligible for free or reduced-price meals in schools for March, April, or May due to loss of income in those months. Each household with an eligible child can receive an amount of $5.70 per child per school day on a Colorado EBT card that will provide extra food benefits to create healthy, wholesome meal options for kids.
For Colorado families that currently receive SNAP benefits and whose children attend a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program, no action will be needed from the family and benefits will be automatically issued in approximately mid-July (more detail to come when available). Families that currently do not participate in the SNAP program, and whose children attend a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program, will receive instructions and key information through the family’s school or school district on how to receive those benefits in July.
P-EBT benefits will be 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.
We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions, broken into sections for the general public, schools and school districts, and county human services agencies. This page is updated regularly.
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. P-EBT provides 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.
In an effort to support Colorado’s families during the COVID-19 epidemic, CDHS and the Colorado Department of Education have 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, 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 are working 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 are 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. Key information on applying for P-EBT is anticipated to come directly from family’s schools and school districts.
If a family that has eligible children attending a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program and is currently participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), no action is needed; benefits will be automatically issued for the school-aged children in the household. Families that currently do not participate in the SNAP program, and whose children attend a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program, will receive instructions and key information through the family’s school or school district on how to receive those benefits in mid- to late July.
The 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:
$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.
No. P-EBT is a separate program that is designed to support the replacement of meals students would have received while at school. P-EBT benefits can be used in a similar way to SNAP benefits, but these are two different programs and sets of benefits which both can be accessed through the EBT card.
No. P-EBT benefits will supplement the grab-and-go meal sites created in response to COVID-19 school closures. They do not replace them.
Families can find a meal site in their community through CDE’s resource list here. We encourage families to use both resources.
Yes. Households can earn Double Up Food Bucks (also known as the GusNIP Incentive) by making qualifying purchases using P-EBT benefits. For more information on Double Up Food Bucks, please visit https://doubleupcolorado.org/.
Once available, the application will be open for several weeks. Your child’s school or school district will communicate this information with you when it becomes available.
If you are a household with children who receive free or reduced-price meals through the NSLP, you will receive additional information and key details from your school or school district.
If you are a household with children that are not currently eligible for free or reduced-price meals, but believe you may now be eligible due to changes in income, please contact your school or school district for information on how to apply. If you are a household with children who do not participate in the NSLP, but could be newly-eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school based on COVID-19 household income changes and you have not yet received a communication from your child’s school, please reach out to your child’s school to confirm participation. If your child’s school does not participate in free or reduced-price meals or the NSLP, you may not qualify for the P-EBT benefit. 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.
Important note regarding P-EBT benefits: The application page is not ready yet. More information will be provided on how to register once it is available in mid- to late July. Benefits for families who were on SNAP in March, April and/or May will be auto-issued in mid-July to an existing EBT card.
If your family is not on SNAP, but you had an EBT card in the past for any Colorado program (Food Assistance/SNAP, Colorado Works/TANF, Adult Financial Programs), then your P-EBT benefits will be loaded to that card once you apply. If you are not currently on SNAP, then you will have to apply for P-EBT benefits through the online application. If you have lost your EBT card, you will have to email us at PEBT2020@state.co.us, requesting assistance on ordering a new P-EBT card after you have applied. In this email, you will need to include the applicant’s name, date of birth, mailing address, phone number, student ID/SASID, and P-EBT application reference number.
To find out if your school participates in the NSLP, please contact your school or school district for more information.
The P-EBT income eligibility guidelines are the same as the 2019-20 free and reduced-price application income eligibility guidelines. 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 may be eligible for P-EBT benefits. Please contact the school for clarification on its NSLP status.
No. 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; it 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.
If you have an EBT card, you can use this same card for P-EBT benefits and will receive P-EBT benefits on your card, whether it is active or inactive. If you have previously had an EBT card and it is now no longer in your possession, instructions on how to request a new card will be provided to you within the P-EBT application.
USDA has approved P-EBT for the regular school year, specifically for the days in March, April, and May where students would have been in school. Because P-EBT is a federal program, Colorado will be able to issue P-EBT benefits for those 49 days of school in those three spring months.
State-issued ID Numbers (sometimes referred to as a SASID) will be communicated by your school or school district in mid-July. If you did not receive this information, please contact your school or school district directly.
This will not be an issue in determining eligibility for P-EBT benefits, but you may be missing student-specific information from your school that has been sent via postal mail — please make sure to check in with your school to receive all key P-EBT information if this is the case.
During the online application process, you will have the opportunity to input your mailing address to where you wish to receive a P-EBT card, if you do not already have an existing card. Inputting your address for the P-EBT card will not update records with your school.
Yes, household information that is used to determine eligibility is protected under both federal and state data privacy practices. Information is only used for eligibility purposes and to deliver a P-EBT card to your household. Any information entered into the application site will not be shared with your child’s school or school district.
No, qualifying for P-EBT benefits will not automatically enroll your child into the NSLP free or reduced-price meals for the 2020-21 school year. Please contact your school or school district for more information on how to enroll your child into the NSLP.
Yes, your P-EBT card may be used online at approved retailers, which are currently Walmart and Amazon. Delivery fees, tips and non-eligible purchases such as alcohol or tobacco cannot be paid for using benefits.
Yes, P-EBT cards can be used in any state, regardless of the state of issuance, with a few exceptions: Due to card cloning, P-EBT cards issued from Colorado are not usable in California or Nevada unless the user specifically requests the card be activated for those states.
If the student was not enrolled in a Colorado school district for the 2019-2020 school year, they are not eligible for P-EBT in Colorado. Please check to see if the student’s former state of residence is participating in P-EBT here.
Yes, if there are multiple children in one household, they may be listed on the same application.
No, this benefit will not count against any other support that you are receiving.
We are anticipating the application to be available in mid- to late July. When this date is finalized, this FAQ will be updated and this information will be circulated widely. Once the P-EBT application is open, it will be available for families to register for several weeks. Again, the closing date will be made very clear once the application is open.
Information on the timeframe for eligibility determination will be included clearly on the P-EBT application. If a family has applied and has not heard an eligibility determination from CDHS after two weeks, they should reach out to the P-EBT email address at PEBT2020@state.co.us.
If you are a CEP or Provision 2 school, that makes all students at that school eligible for P-EBT, though the issuing of the actual P-EBT benefit is not an automatic process and will still need a small amount of action required by families once more information is provided to the family by the school.
P-EBT is for individual households with children who would have been receiving free or reduced-price meals if schools had been in session.
Currently, P-EBT is available for eligible households with children in preschool, Early Childhood Education (ECE), or pre-K through grade 12 who are enrolled in a school that participates in the NSLP.
Foster children are considered categorically eligible for free meals under the NSLP. Therefore, foster children are eligible for receiving P-EBT, but will not be automatically enrolled. Families will receive instructions from their school or school district on how to enroll.
Only students who receive free or reduced-price meals and attend a school that participates in NSLP are eligible for P-EBT benefits. The child who attends a NSLP participating school may be eligible for P-EBT benefits.
Contracted SNAP Outreach partners are able to provide application assistance for those who are unable to complete the online application, due to language or technology barriers. However, your school or school district will need to provide the needed State Issued ID Number (sometimes referred to as a SASID.)
Age is not a factor for eligibility. If the student is attending a school offering NSLP and the student is enrolled in grades pre-K through 12, they are eligible to apply for P-EBT.
Students are eligible to receive benefits if they attend a public, private or charter school that participates in NSLP.
Yes, any household not receiving SNAP will need to apply through the page.
No, application information does not need to be reported to CDHS or CDE. Families can provide household size and income in the P-EBT application if they were not eligible for free or reduced-price school meals during the school year.
No, USDA has only approved funding equal to the cost of school breakfasts and lunches, which is roughly $5.70 per child per day.
No. Families can provide household size and income within the P-EBT application if they were not previously eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
Yes. All families, regardless of receiving P-EBT benefits, will need to re-apply for the new school year.
No, they will not have issues filling out the P-EBT application. While providing a Social Security Number for the head of household helps with EBT card issuance, families will still be able to apply for P-EBT without a Social Security Number.
The SNAP application process does not differ based on household composition, but there are many resources available for SNAP application assistance to any family that would like assistance. Outreach partners, such as Hunger Free Colorado, Benefits Data Trust, Benefits in Action, and Care and Share Food Bank are all able to assist in applying for SNAP over the phone, which may help make the application process easier for families.
If families have just become eligible for SNAP in June, they will need to apply for P-EBT benefits through the application. SNAP and P-EBT are separate programs. A family may apply for SNAP if they are interested, in addition to P-EBT. Or a family may apply for only P-EBT if they are not interested in SNAP.
Yes, CDHS is working on creating and sending communication to SNAP households that will explain P-EBT benefits and how to use the benefits. This communication will also specify that families currently participating in SNAP will not have to apply for P-EBT separately through the online application page.
We are anticipating the eligibility determination to only take about one to two days. If a family has students currently on free or reduced-price meals, once they apply, benefits will be issued quickly due to data match from CDE. If a family is newly-eligible for free or reduced-price meals, they will need to enter their income information into the application, which will then be used to determine eligibility. Once eligibility is determined, CDHS will mail a P-EBT card to the family (which can take 12-24 days to be delivered depending on where the family lives in Colorado). The family will receive instructions on how to activate and use the P-EBT card, and upon activating the card, benefits will be accessible to the family.
CDHS will do the automatic eligibility determination based on the household’s income declaration from the P-EBT application, then will verify student eligibility against the NSLP data of participating schools.
If they were enrolled at a participating NSLP site in Colorado in the 2019-2020 school year, they are eligible to receive P-EBT.
It is important to provide State Issued ID Number (sometimes referred to as a SASID) information to all families. If a family is newly eligible, they will need the ID to complete the application.
Any student enrolled and attending a school site that participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in the 2019-2020 school year is eligible for P-EBT benefits.
Yes, translated templates are available through the CDE School Meal Eligibility webpage.
Yes, families who do not currently receive SNAP and/or families denied for free or reduced-price benefits earlier in the year are able to apply to P-EBT if they now believe themselves to be eligible based on free and reduced-price income eligibility guidelines.
Any family that has experienced a change in income and their student attends a school site that participates in NSLP can apply for P-EBT.
P-EBT contacts are meant to provide families application information throughout the summer. If a district needs further support, please indicate that in the P-EBT Contact Information Form on the CDE School Meal Eligibility webpage.
Communication about the P-EBT application and information on how families can access their IDs needs to begin as soon as possible. The P-EBT application is expected to be live in mid- to late July.
The P-EBT income eligibility guidelines are the same as the 2019-2020 free and reduced-price application income eligibility guidelines.
You can find the guidelines for the 2019-2020 school year here.
The USDA required each student to have a unique ID. This is because the application approval process needed to include a way to prove the student applying was indeed enrolled in a NSLP eligible school in order to uphold the integrity of the program as well as to prevent fraud.
Yes, you can find the P-EBT webinar on the CDE School Meal Eligibility webpage.
CDE does not house the totality of live student information. Using October Count data was CDE’s best option for capturing the most student information as possible without requiring every district to submit current information.
Schools are not providing the P-EBT application but will be asked to provide the link to the P-EBT landing page to their families. The link https://www.colorado.gov/cdhs/p-ebt can be provided on the district webpage or in some other form of communication.
If a school is implementing the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) or Provision 2, all students are eligible for P-EBT. If a school is simply offering universal free meal service without a provision program, this would not qualify all students.
Yes, additional communication and marketing materials will be available for district use. Once available, materials will be available on the CDE School Meal Eligibility webpage.
This information is included in the student data set CDE is providing to CDHS. If a student attends a school implementing a provision program, this will be indicated during the application approval process regardless of the family’s free or reduced-price eligibility status.
Please encourage families to read the FAQs on our website that have been developed to answer many common household questions. If the family still has questions, yes, please ask them to email PEBT2020@state.co.us. Note, however, this inbox does not have access to SASID information and that information must come from the student’s school district.
All private schools have been contacted by CDE to collect the school’s existing student IDs. If a private school provided these to CDE, these are the numbers that will be used to complete the P-EBT application. If a private school requested SASIDs be developed for them, CDE has provided these and sent notification that they are available.
The P-EBT application will ask for income information and household size for each month listed: March, April, and May. These questions will determine P-EBT eligibility for each month separately and families will receive the determined amount for months they were eligible.
Yes, districts as well as community partners are highly encouraged to help households complete the P-EBT application.
Currently, P-EBT is only available for the 2019-2020 school year and will be a one-time issuance. Families that apply for P-EBT will need to complete a free and reduced-price application for the 2020-2021 school year.
Clients who do not have an existing EBT card will be issued a card automatically (mailed by FIS) by completing the online P-EBT application. The client will not automatically be issued an EBT card, however, if they already have an EBT card on record through EBTedge. If the client has previously had a card but now needs a replacement card, they will be provided instructions on how to make this request as part of the online P-EBT application.
Yes, the client will have an EBTedge account and a card would be able to be reissued through the county or the client could call FIS to have a new card reissued.
No, unless the household requests another EBT card. The P-EBT card functions the same as a regular EBT card.
P-EBT benefits will not be counted towards income for SNAP eligibility.
P-EBT counts all income received by the household when determining eligibility.
No, P-EBT is based on free and reduced-price meal eligibility, which is at 185% of the FPL. However, SNAP eligible students are automatically eligible for free meals.
Our current understanding is that the benefit will be shown in the benefits issuance section as a pandemic issuance if the client already uses SNAP. There will be a line in the CBMS section, otherwise it will not show in any other section in CBMS. However, this may change as the build finishes. It will also show up in EBTedge for all P-EBT users.
Currently, CDHS is planning on using the March file to issue P-EBT for SNAP households, so in this scenario, they would not need to apply.
The special indicator used in CBMS should not have any impact on a person's ability to apply through the landing page. The P-EBT landing page is not interacting with PEAK at all, it is just another online application page being used specifically for P-EBT.
This will not be an issue as the P-EBT benefits will still go through auto-issuance due to the SNAP case.
P-EBT benefits will follow normal expungement rules, but will be set to have spend priority when issued. If the benefits are not used within a year, they will expire.
At this time, the P-EBT program is targeted to launch in mid- to late July. Once the program has launched, eligible families who are already active on SNAP will see P-EBT benefits appear first on their EBT cards. Eligble families who are not currently participating in SNAP will complete an online application to determine eligibility for P-EBT. The timing of benefit issuance for families will not vary by which county the family lives in.
The immigration statuses of children and/or their families are not considered when determining eligibility for P-EBT benefits. All eligible children may receive this benefit regardless of immigration status. This information will not be shared with public charge.
For SNAP households, the P-EBT benefit will be loaded onto the existing EBT card for whom the eligible child is listed. For non-SNAP households, a P-EBT card will be sent to the parent who applies and verifies the eligible child is in their home.
Providing a Social Security Number for the head of household helps us issue the EBT card properly, so it is important to provide one if you can. If it is not possible to provide a Social Security Number for the head of household, you can still apply for P-EBT without one.
The above FAQs are available in PDF form. Click either of the boxes below to download.
CDHS, along with the Colorado Department of Education and Hunger Free Colorado, hosted an online P-EBT traning on June 30. Watch them on video (English or Spanish) or download a PDF of the training below.