Last Updated on April 26, 2023 1:54 pm
A program that helped 1.6 million children get healthy food for the last three years is coming to an end, NCDHHS announced on Monday, April 17.
The Pandemic EBT program continues this summer for K-12 students who attend school in person. The United States Department of Agriculture funds P-EBT and granted the extension. Benefits for all other children will end in May at the end of the school year. This includes children younger than 6 who receive Food and Nutrition Services. Benefits also end in May for students who attended virtual or home school.
The North Carolina P-EBT program will not be available in the 2023-2024 school year.
“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.”
To be eligible, a student must take part in their school's free- or reduced-price meals program this school year. (Check here to see if your child’s school participates.) Students must be approved by May 31 to receive benefits this summer. They must also attend school in person. Eligible students will receive one payment of $120 in July to cover the 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. COVID-19 related absences are not a factor in summer.
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 www.ncdhhs.gov/FNS or apply through your local county department of social services. While P-EBT ends this summer, the FNS program is still available to North Carolina families. Families with children under 5 may be eligible for the WIC program and can learn more at www.ncdhhs.gov/ncwic.
For more information on P-EBT, frequently asked questions or additional updates, visit www.ncdhhs.gov/PEBT. NCDHHS administers P-EBT in partnership with the NC Department of Public Instruction.
For additional summer meals resources, families can do the following:
• Text FOOD or COMIDA to 304-304 during the summer months to find a site nearby with free meals for kids
• Visit NCDHHS.gov/FoodResources for a variety of food resources available for families
• Visit NCDHHS.gov/ncwic to learn more about the WIC program. It serves families with children under 5, pregnant and postpartum women.
• Visit NC 211 provided by the United Way (www.nc211.org) or dial 2-1-1 or 1-888-892-1162. The 211 team can tell you about resources in your area.