Pandemic food program available for Chatham County children

Pittsboro, NC – North Carolina has received approval from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to begin a new Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program. This program will enable Chatham County families who have been impacted by school closings due to COVID-19 to purchase food for their children.

The program provides benefits on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card to North Carolina families whose children would receive free and reduced lunch as part of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. There is no application process to receive P-EBT benefits. The P-EBT card will function like a standard EBT card, and the same guidelines will apply.

Eligible families will not need to apply for the P-EBT program. P-EBT eligible families already receiving Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) benefits will receive an additional benefit on their existing EBT card in the next few weeks. P-EBT eligible families not already enrolled in FNS will be mailed a new EBT card in the next few weeks. Families who receive a new EBT card will first receive a letter from the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) in the mail explaining how to activate and use their card.

“North Carolina was one of the first states to gain approval from the USDA to operate a P-EBT program, and we are thankful it was approved so quickly,” said Karen VonCannon, supervisor for the Food and Nutrition Program at the Chatham County Department of Social Services. “We know that many Chatham County families have had to absorb additional food expenses without warning and this will provide much needed assistance.”

Families will receive approximately $5.70 per weekday equaling $257 in total P-EBT benefits per child, provided over two installments, with the possibility of an additional benefit if North Carolina schools are closed beyond May 15, 2020.

“With recent developments and information announced regarding issuance of P-EBT cards to help families in this unprecedented time, School Nutrition Services is working with our state agencies to assist families in this process. More information and guidance for families will be forthcoming,” said Jennifer Özkurt, school nutrition director for Chatham County Schools.

Unused benefits will rollover month-to-month and must be used within 365 days. Families who do not wish to use P-EBT benefits may destroy the P-EBT card when received. If the family changes their minds, the benefits will be available for 365 days and the family may contact the call center to request a replacement card.

If parents have questions about their benefit, they can contact Chatham County DSS at 919-542-2759 or through email at .

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.