Check your mailbox: Some California children will receive up to $365 for emergency food during pandemic

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If you have a child eligible for free or reduced price lunches at school, start checking your mailbox now for a one-time payment for emergency food. The payments range up to $365 per child.

The California Department of Social Services is sending out payments on debit cards that are expected to arrive at homes between May 12 and May 22.

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The payment cards are labeled "P-EBT" which stands for Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer. The payments are in addition to any other aid your child may already be receiving.

Most families with children who have applied for CalFresh, Medi-Cal or Foster Care benefits will get their P-EBT card in the mail automatically according to a department spokesman. About 3.8 million California children are expected to receive this benefit.

Applications for CalFresh, the state's version of food stamps, are skyrocketing. Preliminary figures for the first three weeks of April show more than 264,000 applications, compared to about 119,000 for the same period last year.

Families with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals and who do not get CalFresh, Medi-Cal or Foster Care benefits can apply for Pandemic EBT benefits online starting on May 22 and must apply online by June 30, 2020. After that, no more applications will be accepted.

The cards can be used to buy food only and are accepted at most grocery stores and farmer's markets.

To apply online starting May 22, 2020, go to this link:

If you apply online and do not receive your P-EBT card, call California's EBT customer service center at (877) 328-9677. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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