This summer, every single NYC public school student will receive $420 in “Pandemic EBT,” a federal program to help families buy food while students are not in the classroom due to COVID-19.

Why is everyone getting P-EBT? Is it just for low-income families? 

You might think of EBT as “food stamps,” and have certain stereotypes in your head about who gets it. But thanks to a multi-year campaign led by Community Food Advocates (with decade-long support from the NYC Council Progressive Caucus), in 2017 the NYC Department of Education began to provide universal free lunch (and breakfast, too) open to every student in every NYC school. The idea is to take away the poverty stigma, to help ensure that all kids have stronger health, wellbeing, and educational options.

Because all kids would have access to federally-funded universal free lunch if they were in school, all kids are receiving the P-EBT benefits to provide access to food while out of school due to the pandemic.

We encourage you to use the P-EBT benefits, just like we encourage you to have your kids eat healthy in school. And if you want to share those benefits, we’re helping provide a few ways you can do that below.  

Where can I use P-EBT? 

P-EBT comes on a debit card and can be used at many grocery stores and every NYC greenmarket (and you can use the great Fresh EBT app to locate them and check your balance). You can use EBT to purchase all kinds of groceries, but not prepared foods, cleaning supplies, or pet food. For a complete list of what can and can’t be purchased using EBT, visit here.

When will I get it?

Benefits will be rolled out in three waves based on the types of benefits the family receives. Households that are not enrolled in SNAP (formerly Food Stamps), Public Assistance, or Medicaid are in wave three and are scheduled to receive P-EBT cards beginning in July. If you have not received your benefits, call the Pandemic-EBT helpline at 1-833-452-0096.

What if I don’t need P-EBT? How can I share it? 

Pandemic EBT cards are non-transferrable. So there is no option to transfer your card to someone else or return your card to the government. 

All families who receive P-EBT can and should use it, since everyone needs healthy food, and we really want to make sure NYC gets all the federal funds we can right now. 

BUT there are a few ways you can share your P-EBT benefits with others, if you want to do so:

Use your P-EBT to buy groceries for your family and then donate the equivalent $420 to an emergency food provider: In our area, we suggest Kensington/Windsor Terrace Mutual Aid, Flatbush United Mutual Aid (PayPal, Muslims Giving Back, Masbia Soup Kitchen, People in Need, CHiPS Soup Kitchen.  For more ideas, a partial list of food banks organized by neighborhood is here. Or visit for more suggestions.


Bring your P-EBT card to one of these local grocery stores, and you can easily purchase food that they will deliver directly to a local emergency food provider: Our office has put together a special arrangement with three local grocery stores to accept EBT and deliver the food straight to emergency food providers and mutual aid groups. 

Just go to one of these three grocery stores, go straight to the check-out counter, let them know you are donating the food to the group noted. You can then swipe your card to buy the food, and they will deliver it directly to the group.

  • South Slope (for South Brooklyn Mutual Aid): Rossman Fruit & Vegetable District, 770 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, 11232
    Tell the cashier you are purchasing for South Brooklyn Mutual Aid.
  • Borough Park (for Masbia Soup Kitchen): Bingo Wholesale (the Kosher Costco, no membership fee needed), located at 1245 61st St, Brooklyn, 11219
    Tell them you are buying for Masbia Soup Kitchen.
  • Windsor Terrace (for People In Need): The Windsor Terrace Food Coop is taking orders over the phone 718-972-4600 or by email for People in Need.