COVID-19 Help

5/18/2020: NCDHHS Updates
 
1. One-time benefit of $265 for each eligible child in an active Work First Cash Assistance (TANF) household will be issued via EBT card on May 22 and via direct deposit on May 25.

2. One-time supplement to help any approved Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) household pay their heating bills. Payments must be processed before May 29. These supplements will be used as a benefit and credit to individual family’s energy accounts.

3. Will P-EBT disbursements show in NC FAST?
P-EBT disbursements for both Non-FNS and FNS recipients will only show in EBT edge. The P-EBT benefits are not typical FNS payments and will not be recorded in NC FAST.

Visit the NCDHHS website for more information and to view the full document.

5/6/2020: June FNS Certifications extended

The Department plans to extend the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) certification periods for all FNS cases that have certification periods ending June 30, 2020, with the exception of Simplified Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) cases on May 16, 2020.
               
6-month certification cases:
                    Recertification cases with certification periods ending June 30, 2020 will be extended – July 2020 to December 2020.
12-month certification cases:
                   Recertification cases with certification periods ending June 30, 2020 will be extended – July 2020 to June 2021.
 
SNAP Online: NC has been approved to purchase eligible food items online using SNAP benefits and maintain self-quarantine and engage in social distancing. Currently, the only retailers approved by USDA to allow online purchasing are Amazon and Walmart in conjunction NC vendor FIS.

Eligible Purchases: The same guidelines will apply to online purchases as in-store purchases.

Online Purchase Effective Date.This will be effective May 7, 2020 for all current FNS households.

Note: Acceptance of online EBT purchases will not be limited to the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue after the pandemic has ended for those retailers that have been approved.

5/6/2020: North Carolina Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program UPDATE
 
The information below was updated as of 5/1.
 
What if the family has more questions or needs additional resource information?
North Carolinians can call 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162, 24 hours a day to speak to an NC 211 call specialist. NC 211 has up-to-date resources and information to help people through these difficult times. NC 211 will link callers to resources such as food pantries and distributions, state government resources, mental health and healthcare assistance, general information on COVID 19, and current information on closures and government notices. Calls to 211 are free and confidential and the service is available in most languages. The NC 211 resource database
can also be searched on-line at www.nc211.org.
 
Visit the NCDHHS website for more information and to view the full document.

4/29/2020: North Carolina Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program UPDATE

As previously reported, North Carolina has been approved for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program. This program intends to provide extra help buying groceries for the families whose children normally receive free and reduced lunch at school.

The P-EBT supplement will be deposited in two installments and similar to typical SNAP benefits, unused benefits will roll over from month to month for up to one year (365 days).

Please see the list of Frequently Asked Questions from NCDHHS for more information.

4/21/2020: North Carolina Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program

[Mandy Cohen, DHHS Secretary] Cohen also announced the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program, known as P-EBT, a federal program that will give North Carolina families who receive free or reduced lunch at school an additional $250 per child applied to EBT cards. This will give those families a way to feed children who normally eat breakfast and/or lunch at school, Cohen said in a press conference. Cohen said that families do not need to apply for the program, and those eligible will begin receiving it in the coming weeks. It will be paid in two installments, and possibly an additional benefit if statewide schools are closed beyond May 15. The benefit can be used to buy food at most major grocery stores that already accept EBT. There are more than 800,000 children in North Carolina who normally receive free and reduced lunch at school.

4/17/2020: DC and North Carolina Added to Innovative SNAP Online Pilot Program
 
USDA is expanding access to innovative online food purchase program
 
(Washington, D.C., April 17, 2020) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced approval of the District of Columbia (DC) and North Carolina’s requests to provide online purchasing of food to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Households. This approval will allow the State and Federal District to expedite the implementation of online purchasing with currently authorized SNAP online retailers with a target start date to be announced at a later time. DC’s SNAP participation is over 100,000 individuals, more than 66,000 households, and totals nearly $200 million annually in federal funding.

North Carolina’s SNAP participation is over 1.2 million individuals, almost 600,000 households, and totals nearly $1.7 billion annually in federal funding. This announcement further demonstrates President Trump’s whole of America approach to fighting the coronavirus pandemic by ensuring those affected are fed. 
Background:

The SNAP online pilot is currently operational in Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Washington State. Nebraska joined the pilot on April 1, 2020. The authorized retailers working with all pilot states are Amazon and Walmart, while Wrights Market and ShopRite are working with Alabama and New York respectively. On April 8, it was announced that Arizona and California would be joining, and on April 11 announced Florida and Idaho. 

Though the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is receiving interest to expand the SNAP online pilot program, the responsibility is on state agencies, their third-party processor, and any retailers who wish to participate. To ease the process, FNS put together a simplified template for states who wish to enter the online pilot which is provided as an attachment to this letter.

USDA continues to provide significant technical assistance to interested states to ensure that plans are thorough and appropriate preliminary testing is conducted. If not done properly and judiciously, there is a risk to the State’s entire benefit system. Each State, its EBT processor and retailers present their own mix of challenges so FNS is providing customer service based on each of their specific needs.

FNS will continue to work with interested states in advancing their participation in this pilot. Until States are prepared to operate the pilot, USDA recommends States utilize other options that retailers may already provide, such as Pay at Pick-up (also known as “Click and Collect”), where SNAP cardholders can shop online and then pay for their purchase using their EBT card at pick-up. Grocery pickup is already an option that these retailers offer beyond SNAP so they are already thinking through how they can provide a safe environment to do so with the growing concerns around social distancing.

During these challenging times, FNS is working hand-in-hand with state program leadership, to provide support and guidance to adapt to the challenges of this public health emergency. USDA intends to use available program flexibilities and contingencies to continue to serve our program participants. For up to date information and to learn more about flexibilities being used in FNS nutrition programs, please visit the FNS website

4/16/2020: Wake County COVID-19 Resources

Click here for resources in Wake County. These resources continue to change daily. Check back for more updates.

4/13/2020: Find Emergency Meals for Kids and Teens

USDA Food and Nutrition Service has begun granting waivers that allow states approved for non-congregate feeding, greater flexibilities which allow parents and/or guardians to pick up meals for their children, without the student needing to be present. This waiver is effective immediately, and remains in effect through June 30, 2020, or until expiration of the federally declared public health emergency, whichever is earlier. 

Online Mapping Tool to Find Feeding Sites: Parents with kids and teens 18 years old and under can use our Meals 4 Kids mapping tool to find sites near them where they can pick up free nutritious meals and snacks. To maintain social distancing, kids and teens may take their meal home to eat.  Simply type in your address and find results. *As of April 10, 2020, the map contains information on around 27,000 feeding sites from 30 states including: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, FL, GA, HI, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MD, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA and WI. www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids

Find Meals for Kids site finder

During this national emergency, many schools have unexpectedly closed due to health concerns related to COVID-19.  Usually, the rules require that children gather and eat their meals on site. However, due to the exceptional circumstances of this public health emergency and the need for social distancing, USDA established a nationwide waiver to remove the requirement that children eat at the sites in a group setting. Text ‘Food’ to 877-877 to Find Feeding Sites for Kids and TeensIn addition to USDA’s Meal For Kids online mapping tool, No Kid Hungry offers a national texting service that allows parents or students to find feeding sites near them by text.   

How it works: Text ‘FOOD’ to 877-877 or ‘COMIDA’ to 877-877 for information in Spanish. User receives text back prompting them to enter a street address, city and state and/or zip code for their desired location. While the service is able to return results for inputs that include only city and state and/or zip code, including a full street address will return results that are more accurate. The service then texts back information about nearby meal sites, or information about how to access other food resources if no sites are operating in the vicinity.

Call National Hunger Hotline Call the USDA National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-348-6479, Monday-Friday, 7:00 am – 10:00 pm EST for help locating local feeding sites, food banks, or food pantries. 

FoodFinder AppFind emergency food locations by using the FoodFinder online tool or mobile app: https://foodfinder.us/about-us
Find Updates On USDA’s FNS Response to COVID-19. USDA intends to use all available program flexibilities and contingencies to serve our program participants across our 15 nutrition programs. We have already begun to issue waivers to ease program operations and protect the health of participants.  For all the latest information on our programs during this national emergency visit: www.fns.usda.gov/disaster/pandemic/covid-19

!!NCDHHS has announced the following!!:

4/3/2020: USDA Announces Online Tool to Help Families Find Meals for Kids During COVID-19 Emergency 

Interactive map finds free meals during school closures. WASHINGTON, April 3, 2020 –

The “Meals for Kids” interactive map directs people to local sites where kids can get free meals. The site finder currently lists more than 20,000 meal sites from 23 states, and more sites will be added as states submit data each week. The map is available in both English and Spanish at www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the launch of an online tool – the “Meals for Kids” Site Finder – to help families find meals for children while schools are closed during the coronavirus pandemic. This is the latest in a series of swift actions USDA has taken to keep children and low-income individuals fed during the ongoing health crisis. 

“The Trump Administration is committed to ensuring that America’s children get the nutrition they need during this difficult time. Given that millions of kids rely on school meals as their main source of nutrition, ‘Meals for Kids’ will be an invaluable resource to keep kids fed and healthy,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Brandon Lipps. “Public-private partnerships can be a powerful tool in maximizing the reach of our programs. We’re committed to exploring all innovative solutions that make it easier for children to get the food they need.” USDA is also making the data available to developers, to incorporate in other applications. For example, Food Finder and Nutrislice, have both developed innovative solutions to increase nationwide access to these critical free meals. Food Finder will display USDA’s Meals for Kids locations on their web and mobile app, while Nutrislice is offering their mobile ordering and meal locator solutions for free to hundreds of schools nationwide.  

Recently, USDA has announced a collaboration with Baylor University and other private partners to deliver nearly 1,000,000 meals per week to children in rural communities. We are excited to update that our partners got the first boxes out and students are getting meals for the coming week. Since the outset of the coronavirus outbreak, USDA has provided states with broad flexibilities to ensure the continuation of meal service during COVID-19 related school closures. These actions include: Granting nationwide waivers allowing parents to pick-up meals for their kids in all states; Allowing states to operate meal sites that are open to all children, in all areas, including those that are not low-income (i.e. where less than 50% of children receive free or reduced-price meals); Delaying administrative deadlines associated with the Community Eligibility Provision and other monitoring and reporting requirements to ease burdens on schools that are currently closed due to COVID-19; Making it easier for sites to provide multiple meals at once by waiving meal times requirements; and Waiving requirement that afterschool meals and snacks served through certain programs include educational activities, in order to minimize exposure to the coronavirus. 

As a reminder to all Americans, the USDA National Hunger Hotline remains a helpful resource for people seeking food assistance. The hotline, operated by Hunger Free America, can be reached Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET. at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479) or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (1-877-842-6273) (for Spanish). To learn more about FNS’s response to COVID-19, visit www.fns.usda.gov/coronavirus and follow us on Twitter at @USDANutrition. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy. 

4/1/2020: NC has been granted a waiver to issue supplemental benefits. 

Effective April 1, 2020 automated supplements will be issued for March 2020 and April 2020 to all active FNS recipients in North Carolina up to the maximum allotment for their household size using the following guidelines:

  1. The supplement is the difference between the household’s actual March 2020 and April 2020 benefits and the maximum allotment for their household size.
  2. Households that have already received the maximum allotment for their household size will not receive a supplement.
  3. The household size will not include ineligible and disqualified members.
  4. Households that were ineligible in either March 2020 or April 2020 will not receive a supplement for the month(s) they were ineligible.
  5. Households that were eligible for an allotment but either month prorated to $0 will receive a supplement for the prorated month.
  6. Recoupments withheld for March 2020 will be restored to the FNS unit when the supplement is processed. This processed will be completed on April 18, 2020. Recoupments for the month of April 2020 will be suppressed and will not be subtracted from the household’s regular allotment.

3/31/2020: While More In My Basket focuses on food security and assisting likely-eligible people to access SNAP benefits, we realize that being food secure is related to housing status and having utilities to prepare food.  As a result, we are pleased to share Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order #124:

Governor Cooper Signs Executive Order to Prohibit Utility Disconnections in the Wake of COVID-19   
Executive Order No. 124 can be read HERE
RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper today announced another step to help families by prohibiting utilities from disconnecting people who are unable to pay during this pandemic. Today’s Order applies to electric, gas, water and wastewater services for the next 60 days.  The Order directs utilities to give residential customers at least six months to pay outstanding bills and prohibits them from collecting fees, penalties or interest for late payment. Telecommunication companies that provide phone, cable and internet services are strongly urged to follow these same rules. 

“This action is particularly important since tomorrow is the first of the month, and I know that’s a date many families fear when they can’t make ends meet,” said Governor Cooper. “These protections will help families stay in their homes and keep vital services like electricity, water, and communications going as we Stay at Home.” Additionally, the Order encourages banks not to charge customers for overdraft fees, late fees and other penalties. Landlords are strongly encouraged in the Order to follow the spirit of Chief Justice Cheri Beasley’s Order and delay any evictions that are already entered in the court system. 

Governor Cooper was joined by Attorney General Josh Stein to announce the order and he thanked companies that have already voluntarily announced policies to prevent shutoffs, including Duke Energy, Dominion Energy, AT&T, and local electric co-ops, among many others. Today’s Order follows the Governor’s Stay At Home order, which is in effect until April 29. The Council of State concurred with the Order today. 

Read the full Order here. Read an FAQ about the Order here. The NC Department of Revenue also announced expanded tax relief measures today, waiving penalties for late filing or payments of multiple state tax categories. Learn more about this tax relief here. Make sure the information you are getting about COVID-19 is coming directly from reliable sources like the CDC and NCDHHS.

For more information, please visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus and NCDHHS’ website at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus, which includes daily updates on positive COVID-19 test results in North Carolina.

3/31/2020: NC Restaurants Feeding Kids Initiative Announcement: Are you a restaurant, catering company or foodservice operation interested in helping feed kids in need during COVID-19 school closures? Nearly 900,000 children in North Carolina rely on receiving breakfast, lunch and snacks from school five days a week. During this emergency closure, approved schools and community partners are serving needy kids and teens across the state and receiving reimbursement through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Some schools and community partners operating through SFSP may experience difficulties with food supply and meal transportation. This is where you can step in! SFSP operators are allowed to contract with restaurants, caterers and foodservice operations to supply food for the kids in their community. The NC Department of Public Instruction is leading the NC Restaurants Feeding Kids Initiative to connect restaurants and foodservice operations with schools and community organizations to ensure no child goes hungry while school is out of session. Join a Zoom call on Friday, April 3 at 10:30 am to find out how you can help. 

3/26/2020: COVID-19 orders and resources. Check to see your local DSS hours of operations. Please call prior to going as this information continues to change.

3/18/2020: “The Department plans to extend the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) certification periods for all FNS cases that have certification periods ending March 31 or April 30, 2020, with the exception of Simplified Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) cases. Automatic extension will alleviate the need for FNS households to leave their homes to mail or deliver their recertification forms or to retrieve required verifications, reducing potential exposure to the COVID-19.”

For more information, please refer to the North Carolina Department of Social Services.