How To Activate P-EBT Card California: Eligibility & Activation

How To Activate P-EBT Card California

The EBT card is a state-issued debit card that allows people to purchase food and other necessities, which are then paid for by the government.

This can be an invaluable resource for low-income families who have trouble affording these basic needs. 

The EBT card uses a system of checks and balances and various monetary controls to ensure that benefits are being used appropriately. 

The P-EBT, also known as the Pandemic EBT, is an example. This particular card is catered for school children.

In this article, we shall discuss the activation procedure of the P-EBT Card in California, amongst eligibility criteria, and when the next payout is due.

How To Activate P- EBT Card California

The activation procedure on your new P-EBT Card is simple;

You can call their customer service using their number 1-877-328-9677 between 8 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday, for assistance. You’ll need to have your card at hand since they require the following details;

  • The 16 digits on the front side of the card
  • The date of birth of the child whose name appears on the P-EBT card
  • Your current zip code for the mailing address

You don’t have to re-apply if you got your card in the mail. You’ll follow the above instructions to activate your PIN and create a new PIN afterwards.

What Is California P-EBT Card Program?

California P-EBT Card is a federal government food relief program that started in March 2020 as the first response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The state of California distributes this program. 

The card, which works like a credit or debit card, is used when purchasing foods at approved stores.

It benefits young school-going children who are already recipients of free and reduced-price meals at school.

Since in-person instructional classrooms were closed, children had to stay home and learn from home on online platforms-EBT (Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer) was then introduced to buy food at home, groceries, and farmers’ markets.

The California Social Services Department joined hands with the Education Department to oversee the implementation of this program all over the state.

How Does P-EBT Program Work?

A P-EBT Card is used as a multipurpose Electronic Benefits Transfer Card that can be used in place of cash or food stamp coupons. 

You will use your P-EBT card to purchase your food at the grocery store and online grocery stores.

California P-EBT is a supplemental nutrition program for children and families in California who are recipients of SNAP.

The most recent numbers show that 7 million people get this benefit, which makes up about half of their income.

The P-EBT program was created to promote healthy eating habits and assist in paying for nutritional food sources, especially during the Pandemic in 2020. It is still going on until the end of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Who Is Eligible For California P-EBT?

Eligibility requirement;

  • The California P-EBT program was created to provide financial relief for low-income households with young kids (0-6 years) and school-aged children who are recipients of the free food programs or the reduced-cost meals in schools.

Where Do You Use Your P-EBT Card?

The Pandemic-EBT Program allows people to use these benefits to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and other eligible foods from the food stamp list at;

  • Farmers’ markets
  • Grocery stores 
  • Retail shops that accept food stamps
  • Other authorized retail food stores 
  • Online stores such as Amazon, Walmart, Aldi Stores, Albertsons, Vons, and Safeway Stores

This selection gives participants more choices and access to healthy foods. 

How To Use Your P-EBT Card 

When you are done shopping at the above select stores, you can use your P-EBT card at checkout:

  1. Select EBT
  2. Next, you swipe the card
  3. Then you enter your PIN

How To Activate A New P-EBT Card

If your new EBT card does not work and you need to get your benefits, follow these steps to activate your card;

You can call their customer service using their number 1-877-328-967. You’ll need to have your card at hand since they require the following details;

  • The 16 digits on the front side of the card
  • The 6-digit birth date of the child whose name appears on the card
  • Your current zip code for the mailing address

You don’t have to re-apply if you got your card in the mail. You’ll follow the above instructions to activate your PIN and create a new PIN afterwards.

When you call, you will be given a PIN to access your benefits from the date you receive the PIN to the date it expires.

How To Check Your P-EBT Balance

  • You can check the balance on your EBT card by calling the customer service number; 1-877-543-9677. 
  • You’ll need to provide your name, EBT card number, and the state you currently reside in.
  • This information is used to identify who you are and where you live so that they can check your balance.

Their offices are open from 6 am to 8 pm on Monday through Friday.

You can also check your balance using the last grocery store run. In the receipt below the charges for the previous shopping, there will be your P-EBT account balance.

It’s advised to keep your receipts in a safe place so that you can access the balances whenever you want to be sure.

When To Expect Second P-EBT Benefits 

The second phase of the initial roll-out will begin in December 2021. For this second phase, no application or sign-up is needed.

It does not in any way affect other benefits that you are currently receiving. It also doesn’t impact immigration and makes the recipient a public charge.

P-EBT 2.0 Eligibility in California

  • Children aged 0-6 years old.
  • If you reside in a country with at least one school closed due to Covid-19 or limited, the number of people allowed in a physical classroom.
  • If you are already getting CalFresh food benefits
  • The school-aged children enrolled for the academic year 2020-2021 and participated in the federal breakfast and lunch programs.
  • If the students are already recipients of the free food programs or reduced-cost meals for the academic year 2020-2021
  • If they engage in a hybrid learning program (i.e., online and some physical classroom lessons during 2020-2021)

Does The P-EBT Card Reload Every Month?

Yes, the EBT card reloads every month as long as the program runs. It’s expected to end with the Covid-19 Pandemic, but no one knows for sure as of yet.

How To Apply For Food Stamps In California

California’s CalFresh/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is California’s federally funded, state-supervised program that helps low-income families and individuals buy nutritional value foods for basic needs.

This program benefits eligible households to help them buy the food they need.

There are two ways to apply for food stamps in California: 

  • In-person at your county social services agency or any Department of Social Services office.
  • Online through the CalFresh website.

The Application Process

1. To apply, you’ll need your;

  • Identification Card
  • Prof of any income
  • Proof of immigration for non-citizens

2. You will get an invitation to interview at your county within a span of one or two weeks.

3. If approved, you’ll get your EBT Card in 10 days and can purchase food from any authorized retail store and groceries.

  • Pregnant women, or parents with children under age 5, may also qualify for CalFresh. 

There are new requirements for food stamp recipients to receive benefits in California. These changes have been set forth by the government and have resulted in many Californians losing their food stamps.

The changes include;

  • a new asset limit ($5,000 for households with no elderly or disabled members)
  • an expanded definition of “available income,”
  • and a new requirement that non-disabled adults without dependents work for not less than 20 hours weekly or to alternatively participate in training programs for job allocations.

Who is eligible for CalFresh?

Eligibility for CalFresh is based on the following;

  • your family’s total income and assets (under $2000)
  • your immigration status and 
  • the number of people in your home. 

CalFresh does not count all of the same things that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) looks at to determine if you are eligible to receive SSI benefits. CalFresh eligibility also depends on your age and where you live.


The P-EBT card is an excellent benefit for anyone who qualifies to receive one. By understanding the eligibility requirements, you’ll be able to determine if you’re eligible and how to go about getting your card activated if you are eligible. 

With the help of this article, you can now easily activate your P-EBT Card in California. It is essential to know how to use a P-EBT card and understand its usage terms and conditions. 

Hopefully, with the help of this article, you’ll be well on your way to making the most of your food stamps.