In order to ensure the availability of Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) benefits during the current federal government shutdown, FNS funds for the month of February were posted to benefit recipients’ cards on Sunday, January 20, 2019. As the government shutdown continues, growing concern over future benefits availability, and misinformation regarding current benefits, have prompted the Pitt County Department of Social Services (DSS) to address these issues.
CAUTION: Due to the uncertain availability of benefits in the near future, recipients are strongly encouraged to properly budget the funds placed on their cards on January 20. The benefits placed on their cards are the regular, full amounts provided for the month of February. However, according to the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Service (NCDHHS), nearly 48% of all benefits funds have been spent as of January 23. With seven days still left in the month of January, and the entire month of February ahead, recipients are strongly cautioned to avoid unnecessary spending and, and closely monitor further benefits use. Valuable resources on FNS benefits budgeting and management techniques can be found at www.PittCountyNC.gov/FNS.
CORRECTION: Additionally, in correction to misinformation being spread throughout the community, current benefits funds will not be removed from recipients’ cards. Benefits are good for one year from the date they are distributed, and will not be removed in the event that future funds are not added. They will remain available on the cards until spent, or one year elapses.
FNS is a federal food assistance program that provides low-income families with funds to purchase food needed for a nutritional, adequate diet. Pitt County, along with all other counties in the state, have been working closely with NCDHHS, as they work with federal partners to ensure minimal, if any interruption of FNS services due to the partial government shutdown. Sufficient funds are projected to be available through the month of February, for several programs in addition to FNS; including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC). However, in the event the federal shutdown continues beyond the current time frame, funding for these services could run out after February.
Food & Nutrition Services Early Issuance Messaging (from NCDHHS) - January 21, 2019
- Active Food and Nutrition Services households received their February FNS benefits earlier than normal on January 20, 2019. Benefits received are not extra and no additional benefits will be loaded onto EBT cards until the federal shutdown is resolved.
- Benefits received by the household do not have to be used by the end of January. Households have one year to use benefits loaded onto their EBT Cards.
- Families should budget their benefits, so they will be able to purchase food until additional resources are made available by the federal government.
- If individuals or families run out of food, they should contact their county department of social services to find out about other resources available within the community.
- If an Authorized EBT retailer refuses to accept EBT cards, contact the NC EBT Call Center at 1-866-719-0141 and provide the name and address of the store. DHHS will provide this information to the USDA for investigation.
- DHHS is waiting for further guidance from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding March 2019 benefits.