SNAP Benefits During the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Crisis

This resource contains common questions and about SNAP benefits during the COVID-19 crisis for Tampa Bay area residents including Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota counties.

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Extra Emergency SNAP Benefits

What you need to know

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is issuing emergency SNAP (food assistance or food stamp) supplements to many SNAP households to help buy food during the pandemic crisis.

Will I get extra SNAP benefits?

If your monthly SNAP benefit is less than the maximum SNAP for your household, you will get a supplemental benefit up to the maximum SNAP grant. If you already get the maximum SNAP benefit, you will not get extra SNAP. This is because of a decision made by the federal government, not DCF.

Household size / Max SNAP

  • 1 / $194
  • 2 / $355
  • 3 / $509
  • 4 / $646
  • 5 / $768
  • 6 / $921
  • 7 / $1,018
  • 8 / $1,164
  • Each add’l member / +$146

Examples

Supplement

  • Family A gets $200/month in SNAP for one adult and two kids. This family will get a SNAP supplement of $309 – boosting SNAP to $509 (max for three).
  • Individual A gets $16/month in SNAP. This individual will get a supplement of $178 – boosting SNAP to $194 (max for one).

No Supplement

  • Family B gets $509/month in SNAP for one adult and two kids. This family will NOT get any extra SNAP, because they already get the max for three.
  • Individual B gets $194/month in SNAP. This individual will NOT get any extra SNAP, because they already get the max for one.

If I qualify for extra SNAP, when will I get it?

Eligible households who get SNAP for July 2020 will get an emergency SNAP payment on their EBT card. Families who got SNAP in March, April, May, and June should have already gotten their extra SNAP.

  • The first supplement came on about April 3 or 4 for March SNAP households.
  • The second supplement for April SNAP households came on about April 8 for households that usually get SNAP between April 1-7. For households that got regular benefits after April 7, the supplement was part of their scheduled benefit allotment.
  • The third supplement for May SNAP households came at their usual scheduled time or by around May 11 for new recipients.
  • The fourth supplement for June SNAP households came by June 11 or at the household’s usual scheduled time.
  • July participants who get their allotment between the 1st and 10th, should receive the maximum by July 10. All others can expect the additional July benefits to be part of their regularly scheduled July allotment. New recipients will get additional benefits within a week of being approved.

How do I learn how much I get in SNAP and if I get extra SNAP?

DCF will not send you a notice for extra SNAP. Review your balance and your monthly SNAP benefit amount by:

  • Checking your EBT balance online or by calling (888) 356-3281.
  • Calling DCF’s Customer Call Center at (866) 762-2237 or (850) 300-4323.

What if I need help food shopping?

Any member of your household can use the SNAP EBT card to food shop. Their name does NOT need to be on the card. You can also give your EBT card temporarily to a trusted friend or relative to food shop for you. The store should not inspect the card. The store should not refuse to serve any customer with an EBT card and PIN. You can also use your EBT card to shop for food online at Walmart or Amazon. You may be able to arrange curbside pick-up. If the groceries are delivered by Walmart or Amazon, your EBT card may not be used for the delivery fees. If you order above certain maximum amounts, the delivery fee may be waived.

What if I do not already get SNAP?

If you are low-income, apply now. If you are approved, you may also qualify for an extra SNAP payment.

There are several ways to apply:

  • The fastest way to apply is online.
  • DCF says that you can use a paper application by downloading and printing from this website. The completed paper application can be mailed to ACCESS Central Mail Center, P.O. Box 1770, Ocala, FL, 34478-1770, or it can be faxed or hand-delivered to a customer service center.
  • In some areas, community partners may be open and able to help you apply. Call to confirm.
  • You can also apply for SNAP by phone if you have no other way to submit an application. The number to call is (866) 762-2237 or (850) 300-4323 (TTY (800) 955-8771).

What if I need meals for my school-aged children?

DCF is operating a Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) program so that low-income children will get financial help to purchase meals even though their schools are closed because of the pandemic. Benefits were mailed out by June 30, 2020 but families with children in private and charter schools may not have received benefits until July 21. Find out more in DCF's P-EBT Frequently Asked Questions. In addition, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has partnered with 2-1-1 to activate a text line and call center open 24/7 which Florida families can contact to find free meals for children under 18 during the current COVID-19 school closures. To find a site, simply text FLKIDSMEALS to 211-211, dial 2-1-1 to speak with a live operator, or visit the Summer BreakSpot website. For most sites, no application is required.

Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) in Florida

P-EBT provides food assistance to Floridians with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) but whose school is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who is eligible for P-EBT in Florida?

Families with children who would be getting free or reduced school meals if their school had not been closed due to COVID-19. This includes families like these:

  • Child attends an NSLP Community Eligibility Provision school (schools where every student gets meals at no cost)
  • Child approved by their school district to receive free or reduced-price meals
  • Child enrolled in an NSLP-participating school and their family gets SNAP (food assistance), TANF (cash assistance), or Medicaid
    • For this group of public assistance participants, the child’s school must be participating in the NSLP for the family to get P-EBT

How much does P-EBT provide in benefits?

  • A one-time benefit of $5.70 per day for 55 days per child or about $313.50 per child*
    *If the children were getting free or reduced-price meals before school closures on March 16, 2020.
  • A pro-rated amount if the child became eligible for free or reduced-price meals after March 16*
    *The one-time amount will be based on the month when they became eligible.

How and when will families get their P-EBT?

Benefits were supposed to be available around June 30, 2020. However, families with children in private and charter schools may not have received benefits until July 21.

Check the address on file with your school account or your online DCF MyACCESS account for accuracy.

Call (833) 311-0321 if you still don’t have your P-EBT.

  • Your money—If you are already getting SNAP, the P-EBT benefits will automatically be added to your family’s SNAP EBT card.
  • Families getting Medicaid or TANF—but not SNAP—who have children receiving free or reduced-price school meals will be mailed a P-EBT card to the address on file with the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
  • Families who do not get SNAP, TANF or Medicaid will be mailed a P-EBT card to the address on file with the child’s school district.

How does P-EBT work?

  • P-EBT benefits are put on EBT cards and are used like debit or credit cards at checkout.
    • The cards are issued to the parent or guardian of eligible children.
  • Most grocery stores and many farmer’s markets accept P-EBT.
    • You should be able to use your card to buy food online through Amazon or Walmart. BUT you may be subject to delivery fees if your order does not reach a certain minimum.
  • P-EBT can be used to buy food, with certain exceptions:
    • No alcohol
    • No hot foods
    • No prepared food for immediate eating, like toasted sandwiches at the deli.
  • P-EBT can even be used to buy seeds or plants to grow your own food.
  • P-EBT benefits expire 365 days after issuance.

Does P-EBT replace free school meals from Florida's Summer Breakspot program?

  • No, P-EBT is an extra program in addition to the summer feeding program.
  • P-EBT does not replace grab-and-go meals from the Summer BreakSpot Program.
  • Families may use both as resources to put food on the table

Will using P-EBT impact immigration status?

  • Immigration status is not considered in determining P-EBT eligibility.
  • Using P-EBT will not be considered in a public charge evaluation or affect a parent’s or child’s immigration status.

IMPORTANT: SNAP Work Requirements and Time Limits Temporality Suspended

DCF has suspended all SNAP (food assistance) time limits and work requirements during the COVID-19 public health emergency. No one in Florida should have a time limit or be required to work 80 hours in order to get or keep their SNAP for now. Work requirements are suspended through May 2020 and time limits are suspended throughout the entire COVID-19 public health emergency.

What if I lost SNAP in the past because DCF said I did not comply with work requirements or I already used my time limits?

If you were told that you couldn’t get SNAP in the past because of work requirements or time limits, you should apply again.

How do I reapply for SNAP?

There are several ways to apply:

  • The fastest way to apply is online.
  • DCF says that you can use a paper application by downloading and printing from this website. The completed paper application can be mailed to ACCESS Central Mail Center, P.O. Box 1770, Ocala, FL, 34478-1770, or it can be faxed or hand-delivered to a customer service center.
  • In some areas, community partners may be open and able to help you apply. Call to confirm.

What if I need food today?

For help with emergency food resources if your community:

If you think there is a mistake with your SNAP case, contact Bay Area Legal Services or find free local legal help at The Florida Bar Foundation.

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Last updated: July 28, 2020