State To Provide Extra Help Buying Food For More Than 600,000 Children

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will provide additional benefits through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program to help families purchase food for children whose access to free and reduced-priced meals at school has been impacted by remote learning this fall due to COVID-19. The program provides a benefit on an EBT card that can be used to buy food at authorized retailers, including most major grocery stores.

“Children need access to enough healthy food every day to learn, play and develop to their full potential,” said NCDHHS Secretary K. Mandy Cohen, M.D. “This program will provide extra help buying groceries for children who would normally have access to free and reduced lunch at school but are now doing remote learning at home.”

In the P-EBT program this fall, children are eligible if they had access to free or reduced-priced meals at school last year, their school district or charter school is eligible to provide free or reduce-priced meals at school this year, and their school district or charter school utilized remote learning for all students for at least five consecutive school days between Aug. 17 and Sept. 30.

This is different than the eligibility criteria for P-EBT benefits in the spring, which was available to all children who normally access free or reduced-priced meals, regardless of school circumstance. The new eligibility criteria are based on requirements from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To find out whether your child’s school district or charter school is receiving fall P-EBT benefits, view the list HERE.

Families do not need to apply for P-EBT. Eligible families already receiving Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) benefits will receive an additional benefit on their existing EBT card. Families who received P-EBT in the spring and are eligible under the new criteria will receive additional benefit on their original P-EBT card. Eligible families who do not have an FNS or P-EBT card will be mailed a card. Families being mailed a new card will receive the card within the next two to three weeks.

If someone has lost or destroyed their original P-EBT card, they can order a new card at, on the EBT Edge mobile app or by contacting the North Carolina EBT Call Center at 1-866-719-0141.

P-EBT benefits are entirely federally funded. Earlier this year, North Carolina was the fourth state to receive federal approval to provide P-EBT benefits. More information about the P-EBT program can be found at