NC Providing Nutritious Food With New EBT Program
Many parents and families across the state and country are feeling the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the closing of schools across the state of North Carolina, many children are at home for breakfast and lunch, times when they would usually be at school. The change in schedules has left many parents whose children receive free and reduced-cost lunches struggling to afford the additional groceries they need to provide nutritious food. Thankfully, resources will soon be available to help soften this financial burden.
Access to Nutritious Food
In recent weeks, community organizations that offer food resources have reported that many families needed snacks and other nutritious food items to feed their children during the day while they’re home from school. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced that the state will receive assistance from a new program that will help families purchase nutritious food for their children impacted by school closings due to COVID-19. The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program will to begin in the coming weeks.
“So many families are in need, especially with so many out of work right now,” said Governor Cooper. “This approval helps people get assistance faster to feed their families.”
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services [NCDHHS], in connection with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction [NCDPI], is in the process of working out the details of the program and says families will begin to receive this benefit in the coming weeks. According to the NCDHHS, “the program will provide a supplement on an EBT card to families whose children are eligible for free and reduced lunch while at school.”
Each eligible family will receive $250 in P-EBT benefits per child. The money will be available in two installments. If schools remain closed beyond the current estimated reopening date of May 15, families may receive additional benefits. Caregivers will be able to purchase food items with the P-EBT benefits at EBT authorized retailers, including most major grocery store chains.
Families will not need to apply to participate in the P-EBT program. If a family is already receiving Food and Nutrition Services [FNS] benefits, they will receive the additional amount on their existing EBT card. Families who are not already participating in the FNS program will receive a letter in the mail from the DHHS. The letter will include their EBT-P card as well as information on how to activate and access the P-EBT benefits.
“As our schools closed, many families across the state worried about where their next meals would come from—and we knew we had to take action,” said NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. “The P-EBT program will provide extra help buying groceries for the families of the more than 800,000 children who normally receive free and reduced lunch at school.”
North Carolina is one of the first four states to receive approval from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide the P-EBT benefit program. The program is entirely federally funded. The state is encouraging families to continue utilizing the free feeding programs at the local school and community meal sites to access nutritious food for their children. To obtain a list of these sites, text “FOODNC” to 877-877.
For more information, please contact the NC EBT Call Center at 1-866-719-0141 or contact the Division of Social Services.
The Martin-Pitt Partnership for Children is currently assisting essential employees with finding child care. A staff of NC Child Care Resource and Referral Specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to assist families via the statewide hotline. To access the hotline or for more information on accessing care for the children of essential employees, please visit our blog here. For resources on activities to do with your child while we’re under stay at home orders, check out our blog!