RIVERSIDE COUNTY — Nearly 160,000 eligible Riverside County children are automatically receiving a pandemic electronic benefits transfer (P-EBT) card in the mail to help pay for food during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Children who have not received a P-EBT card may be eligible and the state of California is accepting online applications until the end of the month.

The P-EBT card is a one-time benefit for students who qualify for free-and-reduced school meals and who are enrolled in schools that have been closed since March due to the pandemic. For families who have not received the card in the mail yet, it may be because it’s on its way. Or, perhaps, they will need to apply.

Families whose children are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals but who do not also receive CalFresh, Medi-Cal or Foster Care benefits must apply online by clicking herehttps://ca.p-ebt.org/ before June 30. In Riverside County, more than 130,000 students will need to apply, according to the California Department of Social Services.

If approved, families will be mailed one card per household in the name of the oldest child included in the application. The benefit will be a max of $365 per child. The total amount for each eligible child is based on the value a child would have received in school meals during the months of March, April, May and June.

“We know P-EBT cards are helping many families and many more children may be eligible,” said Allison Gonzalez, assistant director of DPSS’ Self Sufficiency Division. “We encourage families to see if they qualify and if they don’t have a computer, they can apply on their mobile phones if they have internet access through their cellular plan.”

A P-EBT card acts like a debit card. To activate one, recipients must set up a PIN by calling 877-328-9677. Listen to the entire recording, follow all the directions, and select option 4 to successfully activate the card. The card can be used up to a year after receiving to buy groceries either in-person or online where EBT cards are accepted. P-EBT cards cannot be used at restaurants.

Children who are eligible for P-EBT cards can also continue picking up free meals at schools and community locations.

Image Sources

  • Child eating spaghetti: Pixaby