GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A coronavirus pandemic-era program that served thousands across North Carolina will come to an end in March. The state’s Food and Nutrition Services will end its COVID-19 emergency allotments on Wednesday.
The program was designed to help individuals and families afford food and cover emergencies in the face of financial hardships from the pandemic.
For three years, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said they issued extra federal benefits, but as the result of a federal change, the benefits are going back to pre-pandemic levels.
“What that means is all of our FNS households will see a decrease in benefits starting in March. So February, this is the last month that families and households that are enrolled in FNS will see the extra benefit amount,” said NCDHHS Deputy Director for the Division of Child and Family Well-Being Madhu Vulimiri.
During the pandemic, those enrolled in FNS received a minimum of $95 as a supplement in addition to whatever funding they received before the pandemic.
Since 2020, more than 900,000 North Carolinians received benefits from Food and Nutrition Services. In Pitt County alone, that number is in the thousands. Pitt County’s Department of Social Services said that people have come to depend on the supplemental benefits.
“In Pitt County, there are 19,396 households who are in receipt of FNS benefits, and there are 37,742 individuals in those households,” said Pitt County’s Department of Social Services Economic Services Program Administrator Bryan Averette.
Without those funds, officials with Pitt County’s Department of Social Services said people may have to turn elsewhere. The department is ready to help people find the resources they need.
“The food banks have been made aware of this by the NCDHHS, and so they are aware that this is happening, but they still need support from their contributors because there’s going to be an increased need for food once the supplements end,” Averette said.
As for the food banks, they said the loss of supplemental FNS allotments is a big deal.
“At the end of March, people are going to start seeing $95 less of what they were receiving, and that is really big, especially for our partner agencies, and just the increase they may see when they’re doing food distributions,” said the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina Greenville Branch Director Whykeshia White.
White said they are ready to support those in need.
“We are prepping and just trying to make sure we have all our resources in tow, so we’re able to help the community,” White said.
More information on Food and Nutrition Benefits can be found here.
To learn more on programs with Pitt County’s Department of Social Services, click here.
Information on the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina can be found by clicking this link.