July 28, 2023

Florida’s 2023 Summer P-EBT Program: Frequently Asked Questions

Note: This document is based on information available as of the date of publication. As Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) continues to plan its roll out of 2023 Summer P-EBT, some of this information may change. Although this document will be updated to reflect any changes, Florida Policy Institute recommends continuing to check DCF’s P-EBT website for up-to-date details about program eligibility criteria or issuance. 

The 2023 Summer Pandemic Electronic Benefits Program (Summer P-EBT) provides families with grocery assistance to purchase food over the summer for children who normally receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP or the free or reduced-price meal program). On June 21, 2023, USDA Food and Nutrition Service approved Florida’s plan for Summer P-EBT. Florida’s program will provide a one-time payment of $120 per eligible child. 

Below are answers to common questions about 2023 Summer P-EBT

What children are eligible for 2023 Summer P-EBT in Florida?

 Eligible children include school children who were either eligible for free or reduced-price meals through the NSLP last school year (SY 2022-2023) or who applied for free or reduced-price meals through the NSLP on or before June 30, 2023. This includes children who are in schools where everyone automatically gets free NSLP meals (called “community eligibility schools.”) It also includes children who did not have to apply for the NSLP to get free school meals because they receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits or Medicaid (called “directly certified.”)

How much does 2023 Summer P-EBT provide in benefits?

Families of children who qualify will receive a one-time issuance of $120 per child.

Who runs the Summer P-EBT program?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the Summer P-EBT program at the federal level.  In Florida, the program is administered by DCF, although the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and the Florida Department of Education also help administer the plan.

How does 2023 Summer P-EBT work?

Summer P-EBT benefits are issued on EBT cards to the parent or guardian of eligible children. EBT cards are used like debit or credit cards to buy food. Most grocery stores and many farmers markets accept Summer P-EBT. These benefits can be used to buy food, with certain exceptions such as alcohol, hot foods, and foods prepared for immediate consumption, like toasted sandwiches at the deli.

Families can also use their Summer P-EBT benefits online through Walmart, Amazon, Aldi, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Freshfields Farm, Hitchcock’s Markets, Publix, Mt. Plymouth IGA and Whole Foods.  However, P-EBT benefits cannot be used to pay delivery fees.

Summer P-EBT can even be used to buy seeds or plants to grow food.

Will families get a new P-EBT card for Summer P-EBT?

Families who participate in SNAP or who already have a P-EBT card from earlier P-EBT issuances will have their benefits loaded onto their existing cards. Children who either are not currently receiving SNAP or did not receive P-EBT benefits in the past will be issued a new P-EBT card for 2023 Summer P-EBT. DCF plans to issue one P-EBT card per household, regardless of the number of children in the home who are eligible for Summer P-EBT.  If Florida is unable to identify eligible children within the same household, a card will be issued for each child.

A P-EBT card looks and works like a debit card. Households can use their P-EBT cards to purchase groceries at participating stores and farmers markets by swiping their EBT card at point-of-sale (POS) terminals in the check-out line.

Do people have to apply to get 2023 Summer P-EBT for their kids?

No. Although families can apply for free or reduced-price meals through the NSLP using the normal application process in their school districts, families cannot apply for Summer P-EBT.  Instead, Summer P-EBT benefits will be automatically issued to families with children who get free or reduced-price meals at school through the NSLP.

When will families receive 2023 Summer P-EBT for eligible children?

DCF plans to distribute Summer P-EBT benefits from July 2023 through September 2023.  Although families will get their child’s total benefits in one issuance, not all families in Florida will be issued P-EBT on the same day. Florida plans to disperse Summer P-EBT benefits in three issuances:

  • School children who are currently receiving SNAP;
  • School children who already have a P-EBT card; and,
  • School children for whom a P-EBT card must be issued. 

Barring unforeseen circumstances, DCF will complete the issuance of 2023 P-EBT benefits to all eligible children by December 31, 2023.

Will school children receive 2023 Summer P-EBT if they did not become eligible for free or reduced-price meals until this summer?

Some children who were not participating in free or reduced-price meals at school during the regular 2022-2023 school year may still be able to get 2023 Summer P-EBT.  So long as a family submitted an NSLP application for their child on or before June 30, 2023, the child may still be eligible for Summer P-EBT if their application is approved, and if their school participated in the NSLP at the end of SY 2022-2023.

Unlike past Summer P-EBT programs, children in child care (including children under 6 who participate in SNAP) are not eligible for 2023 Summer P-EBT. This is a restriction placed on the 2023 summer program by Congress.

What school children are “directly certified” for NSLP free school meals?

In Florida, children participating in SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid who go to a school that runs a free or reduced-price school meal program are directly certified for free school meals without having to apply. Because these children participate in one of those safety net programs, they will automatically be eligible for 2023 Summer P-EBT.

Can children who do not attend a school that participates in NSLP get Summer 2023 P-EBT?

Under federal law, only children who go to  schools that participate in NSLP are eligible for 2023 Summer P-EBT. This means that children whose school does not take part in NSLP cannot get Summer P-EBT, including children who are either homeschooled or not enrolled in an NSLP-participating virtual school.

If a child is ineligible for SNAP because of their immigration status, are they also ineligible for 2023 Summer P-EBT?

Summer P-EBT does not restrict eligibility based on immigration status; additionally, using Summer P-EBT will not be considered in a public charge evaluation, nor will it affect a parent’s or child’s immigration status. Also, there is no citizenship requirement for free or reduced-price school meals through the NSLP and schools cannot reject a child because of their immigration status or require that students have a social security number to sign up.

However, school children who are ineligible for SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid because of their immigration status will have had to establish their eligibility for 2023 Summer P-EBT another way: these children must already be participating in the NSLP at their schools, have applied for free or-reduced-price meals on or before June 30, 2023, or be attending a school where all students get free meals

Can a child get 2023 Summer P-EBT and also get meals through Summer BreakSpot?

Children can get both 2023 Summer P-EBT and meals though Florida’s Summer Food Service Program, called Summer BreakSpot. The federally funded program provides meals to children under 18 in Florida at places like schools, parks, and libraries. Summer BreakSpot is run by FDACS. However, Summer BreakSpot does not operate in every community. For a list of sites, go to https://www.summerbreakspot.org/find-location/#map or call 2-1-1.

How are people with disabilities or language barriers served in the 2023 Summer P-EBT program?

DCF has assured FNS that Florida will provide people with disabilities or language barriers with meaningful access to 2023 Summer P-EBT.

For people with language barriers, DCF says that they will provide an interpreter through the customer call center and that mailings will be provided in Spanish and Haitian Creole. People with disabilities, according to DCF, will be served in the same way the Department currently serves SNAP participants who require additional assistance. 

Most of DCF’s policies and procedures for serving people with disabilities or language barriers can be accessed through DCF’s dedicated webpage and Auxiliary Aids and Service Plan . In addition, DCF also has a list of regional staff whose job is to help coordinate services for people who have disabilities or language barriers. DCF calls these employees Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinators. 

Most DCF circuits also have a Client Relations Coordinator who is supposed to be available to help with problems for all SNAP participants regardless of whether they have a disability or language barrier. To find local Client Relations Coordinators, go to DCF’s “Contact Us” webpage and enter the county under “Contact Information by Circuits and County.”

What if a family has barriers to getting their P-EBT card because they are experiencing homelessness?

Households who are experiencing homelessness may have problems figuring out how to get their P-EBT card if they do not already have one. Fortunately, DCF says that it is flexible on the address that families experiencing homelessness can use for getting their P-EBT card. It urges families to identify a safe address to receive their card if they have not already provided one.

What should people do if DCF makes a mistake concerning a child’s 2023 Summer P-EBT?

DCF says that households should use its P-EBT customer call center and P-EBT portal to report and resolve problems about 2023 Summer P-EBT benefits.[1]

The deadline for alerting DCF about problems with 2023 Summer P-EBT is  August 25, 2023. However, families should immediately contact DCF about Summer P-EBT problems as soon as any problem arises. DCF says that if it is unable to resolve a family’s Summer PEBT issue by September 22, 2023, the child whose benefits are in dispute will be ineligible.

Free legal help for people with Summer P-EBT problems may also be available. To locate organizations that may be able to help, go to www.floridalawhelp.org or look in a phone book or online for the phone numbers of local legal services or legal aid organizations.

How many children in Florida will receive Summer P-EBT?

2023 Summer P-EBT will go a long way to help struggling Floridians buy groceries for their children. Florida estimates that it will issue $264.0 million to approximately 2.2 million school children in 2023 Summer P-EBT benefits.

What if a family does not want 2023 Summer P-EBT benefits? 

Some families do not want Summer P-EBT benefits even though their children may be automatically eligible. Although rare, this typically comes up in families with children who are in Community Eligibility Schools where all kids are deemed eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

FNS has addressed that issue directly and says that P-EBT benefits cannot be given away or donated. FNS suggests that non-SNAP recipients destroy their card if they do not want P-EBT benefits that have been issued to their children. For SNAP recipients who do not want extra P-EBT for their eligible children, FNS suggests contacting DCF.


[1] As of the data of publication of this FAQ, DCF had not yet activated its P-EBT call center or P-EBT portal.

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