How COVID-19 (coronavirus) impacts food stamp (SNAP) benefits and more

(updated December 21, 2020)

The financial impact of COVID-19 has been devastating. To help you during this crisis, states introduced changes to food stamps (SNAP), unemployment, and other benefits.

If you haven’t already, download the Fresh EBT app to get information about important changes and track your EBT balance: Download Fresh EBT

The latest.

Food stamp (SNAP) benefits.

Food stamps are on the normal schedule.

Emergency allotments: In March and April of this year, USDA granted waivers to states to issue additional SNAP benefits to households not already receiving the maximum allotment for their household size. All states are issuing emergency allotments for December. Download Fresh EBT to get information about important changes.

*Please note: If you are already receiving the maximum allotment for your household size, you will not receive additional benefits.

Pandemic EBT (P-EBT).

States issued P-EBT benefits for the 2019-2020 school year to families with children enrolled in free or reduced-price school meal programs. These benefits were issued onto an existing EBT card or a P-EBT card.

UPDATE (9/30) Congress passed a bill authorizing the extension of P-EBT programs for the 2020-2021 school year ( read the legislation)

What the bill does:

  • Provides P-EBT benefits to children who have a reduction in the number of days or hours they are physically in school or child care
    • Previously eligible children may not be eligible for 2020-2021 P-EBT benefits
  • Younger children in child care programs or homes that participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) may now be eligible under this new round of funding.
  • Allows Puerto Rico and other territories to implement P-EBT programs

*Please note: states must submit a plan and receive approval in order to issue P-EBT benefits for the 2020-2021 school year. This process could take several months.

The Process:

  • Congress must pass a bill to authorize funding to extend P-EBT (completed)
  • USDA must establish rules and a process for states to submit a plan (in process)
  • States must develop a P-EBT program, including eligibility criteria. This will likely differ by state and not every state will participate (not yet in process)
  • State plans must be approved by USDA (not yet in process)
  • Once approved, States will share information about P-EBT for eligible families in their state*

If you haven’t already, download the Fresh EBT app to get information about important changes and track your EBT balance: Download Fresh EBT


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order, effective from September 4th through December 31st, 2020, that provides protection from eviction to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Take these steps to prevent eviction:

  1. Review the eligibility criteria and FAQ.
  2. Use this tool to generate and email a declaration to your landlord or property manager (Each adult listed on the lease, rental agreement, or housing contract should complete the form).
  3. Connect with a legal aid organization in your state to discuss your specific situation.


Many utility companies (power, gas, water) are keeping services on for people who can’t pay their bills because of the virus.

Call your utility company directly for more information. If you’re deciding between paying a bill and buying food or essential items, call first!

You may still owe past balances.


Many states expanded unemployment benefits because of COVID-19. These expanded benefits are for full-time as well as part-time, self-employed, and gig workers. Even if you only had your job briefly, you might still qualify.

The unemployment application and certification processes are difficult to navigate. We’ve put this guide together to help make things a little easier.

Please check your state’s Department of Labor site for details about unemployment benefits.

Unemployment FAQ.

What are all the different types of unemployment benefits currently available?

Unemployment Insurance (UI) (also known as regular unemployment, unemployment compensation, reemployment, etc.): Available to workers who recently lost their job or had their hours reduced while they search for new employment.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) (also known as extended benefits): The extension of regular unemployment benefits by 6-20 additional weeks, depending on your state. In most states this is 13 additional weeks.

(Update) Lost Wages Assistance (LWA): Some states will distribute additional benefits to replace PUC. In those states, current UI recipients will automatically receive additional benefits (usually $300-$400) on top of regular unemployment insurance benefits. Benefits will be distributed as long as funds are available, typically three to six weeks. Check your state for updated information or download Fresh EBT: Download Fresh EBT.

Am I eligible for any of these unemployment benefits?

Use this 2-minute tool to find out. (insert link)

How long after I apply will I receive unemployment benefits?

In some states it is taking as long as 10 weeks after applying to receive benefits.

What is a weekly or bi-weekly certification?

Depending on your state, you are required to certify your benefits and report any income you have earned since you last certified. Many states have waived the requirement to report your job search details due to COVID-19; however, check the information below to verify for your state.

Do I have to pay taxes on my unemployment income?

Yes, unemployment is taxable income and you may have to pay federal and state taxes on both your regular unemployment and your PUA. You can choose to have taxes withheld from your unemployment if you want to avoid paying taxes later.

Will receiving unemployment impact my SNAP benefits?

Your SNAP benefits may be impacted based on the amount of unemployment you receive.

(Update) Lost Wages Assistance does not impact SNAP eligibility.

How will I receive my unemployment funds?

Many states give you the option of receiving your unemployment by direct deposit to your financial institution or on an unemployment benefits debit card that is mailed to you.

Additional resources.

Many companies and organizations are stepping up to help people who need it right now. We’re sharing these resources in the Fresh EBT app to help you:

  • Find food for your family
  • Find jobs
  • Entertain and educate kids at home
  • Stay healthy, physically and mentally
  • And more, every day.

Download Fresh EBT to find the support you need now.

Have questions? Is this information incorrect or out of date? Email and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

Fresh EBT is not part of the government and we do not guarantee the accuracy of this information. If you have specific questions about your SNAP case, please contact your caseworker or local human services office.

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