• By Social Services
  • Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Assistance coming for families with children eligible for free, reduced lunch

Families with children who would receive free and reduced lunch at school will be getting assistance to buy food as part of the new Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program.

This US Department of Agriculture program helps families impacted by school closings due to COVID-19 purchase food for their children. It provides benefits on an EBT card to North Carolina families whose children, under the age of 18, would receive free and reduced lunch.

There is no application process to receive P-EBT benefits. The benefits will be issued according to NC Department of Public Instruction files for children enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program.

Eligible families already receiving Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) benefits will receive an additional benefit on their existing EBT card.

Families not already enrolled in FNS will be mailed an EBT card in the next few weeks. Those families will first receive a letter from the NC Department of Health and Human Services in the mail explaining how to activate and use their card.

Families will be able to use the P-EBT benefit to purchase food items at EBT authorized retailers, including most major grocery stores. They will receive a total of around $257 per child over two installments, with the possibility of an additional benefit if North Carolina schools are closed beyond May 15. The first of the two installments will account for a higher percentage of the $257 per child, since it’ll cover the school closure days in March and April. The second will be lower since it will only cover May.

The new P-EBT program is in addition to other services families may be participating in. All families that receive Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) are still receiving the maximum amount for their household size allowed for March and April 2020.

Families are encouraged to continue utilizing feeding programs at local school and community meal sites for free, nutritious meals for children. Families can text FOODNC to 877-877 to find local meal sites. The service is also available in Spanish by texting COMIDA to 877-877.

For additional information, visit the P-EBT FAQ here.

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