Pandemic-era food support for North Carolina families ending; One-time payment available for summer

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Monday, April 17, 2023
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The North Carolina P-EBT program that helped 1.6 million children get healthy food for the past three years is coming to an end, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) said.

The program will continue through the summer for K-12 students who attend school in person. The P-EBT program will not be available in the 2023-24 school year, NCDHHS said in a news release Monday. In addition, benefits for all other children will cease at the end of this school year; this includes children younger than 6 who receive Food and Nutrition Services and students who attended virtual or home school.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds P-EBT and granted the extension during the pandemic in 2020.

"This program, though temporary, has been a lifeline for so many children to get nutritious meals when they could not get them at school," said Susan Gale Perry, NCDHHS Chief Deputy Secretary for Opportunity and Well-Being. "Children need good nutrition to grow up healthy and to live their best lives. This program shows how we can meet a critical need for our children across North Carolina."

Here's how to receive the one-time summer payment, if you qualify

Eligible students will receive one payment of $120 in July to cover the summer. NCDHHS said for students to be eligible for the P-EBT this summer they must meet the following qualifications:

  • The student must take part in their school's free- or reduced-price meals program this school year
  • They must attend school in person
  • COVID-19-related absences are not a factor in summer

Check here to see if your child's school participates

Students must be approved by May 31 to receive benefits this summer

  • The payment is made to the card for families who receive FNS benefits or P-EBT benefits.
  • Families new to the program will receive a card in the mail

IMPORTANT DEADLINE INFO: Families who have not already qualified for free or reduced lunch should apply by May 1.

Applications take more than a month to process and must be approved by May 31. Apply to the school's free or reduced meals program or Food and Nutrition Services. Enrollment for P-EBT and school meals is automatic for families with FNS benefits on or before May 31.

If you need information on how to apply for free or reduced-price meals, contact your child's school. To apply for FNS, visit or apply through your local county department of social services.

RELATED | Wake County targets food insecurity through new plan

Other ways families can get food support

Although the P-EBT ends this summer, NCDHHS said the FNS program is still available to North Carolina families. And, families with children younger than 5 may be eligible for the WIC program and can learn more here.

Click here for more information on P-EBT, frequently asked questions or additional updates.

Get information on additional summer meals resources

  • Text FOOD or COMIDA to 304-304 during the summer months to find a site nearby with free meals for kids
  • Visit the NCDHHS WIC section online to learn more about the WIC program and see if you quality


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