P-EBT Frequently Asked Questions

Updated July 13, 2022

P-EBT is a collaboration between the NC Department of Health and Human Services and the NC Department of Public Instruction. Review the frequently asked questions (FAQs) below for more information about who is eligible and how families will receive the benefit during the 2021-22 benefit year. North Carolina does not yet have any information on P-EBT for the 2022-2023 school year.

Jump to FAQ sections: General P-EBT | Summer P-EBTSchool Year P-EBT

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GENERAL P-EBT FAQS

About Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program

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Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) is a food assistance program that helps families with students and children who are unable to access free or reduced-price meals at school or in child care centers when they are not physically present because of COVID-19. P-EBT has two eligible groups: Student and Child Care (previously called P-EBT for Children Under 6).

P-EBT benefits for eligible children are added electronically to cards that are like debit cards that families can use to buy food at participating stores, including most grocery stores and some online retailers. Families who have already have an FNS EBT card will have benefits added there, while other families will receive a new P-EBT card.  

P-EBT is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has been approved to continue Student and Child Care P-EBT through the 2021-22 school year. However, there are some changes to benefit amounts for students and young children and to eligibility criteria for students this year. See “Who is eligible for Student P-EBT?” and “Who is eligible for Child Care P-EBT?” for more information about 2021-22 school year benefits. For eligibility information for Summer 2022, please see the Summer 2022 section.

To access your Cardholder Portal, visit www.ebtEdge.com. This makes it easy to check your card balance, review recent transactions, and see when benefits will be available. You will need to have your card number to complete the following steps.

To create an online account or use the ebtEDGE mobile app, you will need to register with a valid email address. If you don’t have an email address, you will need to create one.

To register for ebtEDGE, please follow the instructions below.

  1. Visit www.ebtEdge.com and select “Register Here” on the login page.
  2. Complete the required fields.
    1. Unique User ID

      • Must be between 4-35 characters in length and contain at least one alphabetical character.
    2. Password with Confirmation
      • Must be 6-8 characters and contain at least one upper case alphabetical character, one lower case alphabetical character, and one number. Special characters such as @, #, and $ can be used.
    3. First Name
    4. Last Name
    5. Email Address
    6. Phone Number
      • Enter only numbers - no dashes, parenthesis, or spaces.
  3. You will be redirected to set up challenge questions. These help make sure your account is secure.
  4. Select a question from the challenge question drop-down and then input your answer. After all required fields are entered, select “Done.”
  5. You will be redirected to link your account to your User ID.
  6. Click “Add Account,” enter your card number and validation criteria, and click “Add Card.”

You can easily check your card balance four ways:

  1. Online by visiting www.ebtEdge.com – read Option 1 below
  2. Through the ebtEDGE mobile app – read Option 2 below
  3. By text message – read Option 3 below 
  4. Through the EBT Call Center Automated Phone System – read Option 4 below

Option 1: www.ebtEdge.com

To check your balance using www.ebtEdge.com, log into your account (see “How do I use ebtEdge (EBT Cardholder Portal) for my EBT account?” to learn how to set up your account). Your current balance and a list of previous transactions will show on the screen. 

Your ebtEdge Cardholder Portal account will show if there are benefits posted and/or pending and when those benefits will be available for use. If your food benefit amount is listed under “Pending Items,” this means that you will not be able to spend them until the date listed below the pending deposit.

Option 2: ebtEDGE mobile app (available on iPhone and Android)

  1. Download the ebtEDGE mobile app from the App Store or Google Play Store. Look for the icon below to make sure you have the correct app.
  1. Enable location services when prompted to do so. This helps find nearby stores that accept EBT.
  2. Log into your account. If it is your first time logging in, you will be prompted to register (see “How do I use ebtEDGE (EBT Cardholder Portal) for my EBT account?”).
  3. The current balance and a list of previous transactions will show on the screen.

Option 3: SMS text messages

Checking your balance by text message (SMS) is easy. Your cell phone number will need to be linked to the account. Follow these instructions to link your cell phone number. You will need your cell phone, P-EBT or FNS EBT card number and PIN.

  1. Log into your account on www.ebtEdge.com and select a card from the Welcome page. 
  2. Select “Messaging Registration” on the “Account Services” section of the Account Summary page.
  3. Add your cell phone number with area code and click “SMS Balance” and “Text Alerts.”
  4. Click on the “Save” button, and a confirmation message will appear.
  5. Once you have linked your cell phone number and the account, you can check your account through text at any time.
    1. To check your balance, text BAL to 42265.
    2. To check your last five transactions, text MINI to 42265.
    3. To stop receiving these text messages, text STOP to 42265

Please note: If you have to request a new card, it will come pre-registered with SMS, and you do not need to repeat these steps.

Option 4: EBT Call Center IVR 

To check your card balance through the automated phone system of the EBT Call Center, call 1-888-622-7328 and follow the automated instructions. Please have your card number readily available.

Your P-EBT card or FNS EBT card can be used to purchase food items at EBT authorized retailers, including most major grocery stores and certain online retailers. Hot foods or pre-prepared foods cannot be purchased with your P-EBT benefits, just like under the FNS program.

Examples of items you CAN buy with P-EBT benefits:

  • Breads, cereals, fruits and vegetables    
  • Meats, fish, poultry and dairy products 
  • Bottled water and non-alcoholic beverages  
  • Seeds and plants that produce food 

Examples of items you CANNOT buy with P-EBT benefits:

  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco  
  • Any nonfood items, such as: pet foods, soaps, household supplies, vitamins and medicine  
  • Hot or pre-prepared foods

Remember to check your balance before you shop (see “How do I check my P-EBT and/or FNS card balance?”) for more information.

P-EBT benefits will expire 274 days after the date of issuance. You do not have to use all your benefits at once. Any unused benefits will continue to be available month to month for up to 274 days after issuance.

No, you will not have to pay back P-EBT benefits. P-EBT is federally funded, and there is no cost to the recipient. 
 

Families are encouraged to confirm their addresses are correct and update them if needed. If your child has a Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) case, you must contact your FNS case worker for a change of address. If your child does not have an FNS case, please update the address with the child's school, or call the EBT Call Center at 1-866-719-0141.

When your P-EBT card arrives it will already have the benefits that your student was eligible for. To access these benefits, you will need to activate your card and create a PIN. You can easily set your PIN three ways: online by visiting www.ebtEdge.com, through the ebtEDGE mobile app, or through the EBT Call Center IVR.

Important: To activate your P-EBT card, you will be asked to enter the date of birth (DOB) associated with the card. If you have multiple students in your household, you may need to try the DOB of each student, starting with the youngest. Enter the DOB as two digits for the month, two digits for the day, and four digits for the year (MM/DD/YYYY). For example, Jan. 24, 2014 would be entered as 01242014. 

  • Example: The household consists of two students; one is 13 years old (DOB: 04/04/2007) and one is 15 years old (DOB: 01/01/2005), and both are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school. To activate the card, enter the date of birth for the 13-year-old (04042007). If the 13-year-old student’s DOB does not work, enter the 15-year-old student’s DOB (01012005). 

There are three (3) ways to activate your card:

Option 1: www.ebtEdge.com

  1. Log into your account. If it is your first time, you will be prompted to register (see “How do I use ebtEdge (EBT Cardholder Portal) for my EBT account?”).
  2. Select a card from the Welcome page.
  3. Click on "Pin Select" and enter the requested information to confirm your identity.
  4. Confirm your PIN.
  5. Click on the "Save" button, and a confirmation message will appear.

Option 2: ebtEDGE mobile app (available on iPhone and Android)

  1. Download the ebtEDGE mobile app from the App Store or Google Play Store.
  1. Log into your account. If it is your first time, you will be prompted to register (see “How do I use ebtEDGE (EBT Cardholder Portal) for my EBT account?”).
  2. Select a card from the Welcome page.
  3. Click on "Pin Select" and enter the requested information to confirm your identity.
  4. Confirm your PIN.
  5. Click on the "Save" button, and a confirmation message will appear.

Option 3: EBT Call Center IVR 

  1. Make sure you have your 16-digit card number readily available.
  2. Call 1-888-622-7328 and follow the prompts to activate your card.

If you do not wish to receive P-EBT benefits for your eligible children, you should destroy the P-EBT card. If you change your mind, please call the EBT Call Center at 1-866-719-0141 to request a replacement card before your benefits expire (365 days after the benefits are issued).

Any child that meets all eligibility requirements will be eligible for P-EBT, regardless of their legal or immigration status. Receiving P-EBT food assistance does not impact your immigration status and will not impact a future immigration application you may file.

No. Receiving P-EBT will not disqualify you or your child from accessing other food programs.

If you would like information on other food resources, visit NC 211 provided by the United Way or dial 2-1-1 or 1-888-892-1162 to speak with someone who can tell you about resources in your area. Please note that NC 211 cannot assist with P-EBT eligibility or benefit amount. 

Information on additional food resources can be found at the No Kid Hungry website and through NC SNAC resources (NC State Nutrition Action Coalition).

To see if you may be eligible for FNS food assistance benefits, visit NCDHHS’ FNS webpage.

North Carolina is awaiting guidance from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on whether P-EBT will be extended for the 2022-23 school year to students and young children. The P-EBT website will continue to be updated with additional information as it becomes available.

2022 SUMMER P-EBT FAQS

Jump to: About Summer P-EBT | Student Summer P-EBT | Child Care Summer P-EBT

About Summer P-EBT

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Yes. North Carolina was approved to continue P-EBT through Summer 2022 (June 1-Aug. 31). Eligible students and young children can expect to receive a one-time payment for the summer period.
    
For more information on eligibility, please see “Is my student eligible for Summer 2022 P-EBT?” or “Is my young child eligible for Summer 2022 P-EBT?” For more information on how benefits will be received, visit “How will my student receive Summer P-EBT?” or “How will my young child receive Summer P-EBT?” For more information on timing, visit “When will my student receive Summer P-EBT?” or “When will my young child receive Summer P-EBT?”

Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) is a federally funded, temporary food assistance program that helps families during the COVID-19 public health emergency. There are two P-EBT populations: students and young children (also referred to as Child Care P-EBT and Children Under 6).

Summer P-EBT is an extension of school year 2021-22 benefits. Eligibility requirements for Summer P- EBT are different than the requirements for the school year and are based on guidelines set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which simplified P-EBT eligibility requirements for summer. See “Is my student eligible for Summer 2022 P-EBT?” or “Is my young child eligible for Summer 2022 P-EBT?” for eligibility information. 

P-EBT benefits for eligible students and young children will be electronically placed on debit-like cards for families to buy nutritious food at participating stores, including most grocery stores and some online retailers.

For more information on how benefits will be received, visit “How will my student receive Summer P-EBT?” or “How will my young child receive Summer P-EBT?” For more information on timing, visit “When will my student receive Summer P-EBT?” or “When will my young child receive Summer P-EBT?”

There is no application for Summer P-EBT benefits. Instead, eligibility is determined by participation in other food assistance programs. See “Is my student eligible for Summer 2022 P-EBT?” or “Is my young child eligible for Summer 2022 P-EBT?” for eligibility information.

Although the P-EBT program has no application, to be eligible for Summer P-EBT you must have been approved for one of the following programs during the last month of the school year (May 2022) or apply during the summer and be approved for the programs listed below:

You may also check to see if your student or young child is eligible for Summer P-EBT using the eligibility flowchart (also available in Spanish).

North Carolina will issue a one-time summer benefit payment of $391 per eligible student and young child.

Students and young children who become eligible for P-EBT over the summer will receive the same benefit amount regardless of when they are approved, if the application is submitted prior to Aug. 31, 2022. See “Is my young child eligible for Summer 2022 P-EBT?” for information on eligibility and how to become eligible over the summer.

See “How will my student receive Summer P-EBT?” for more information about how families will receive the summer benefit. See “When will my student receive Summer P-EBT?” for more information about when the summer benefit will be issued.

Eligibility for P-EBT is determined for each individual student (Student P-EBT) and young child (Child Care P-EBT). See “Is my student eligible for Summer 2022 P-EBT?” or “Is my young child eligible for Summer 2022 P-EBT?” for more eligibility information.

You can check to see if your student or young child is eligible for Summer P-EBT using the eligibility flowchart (also available in Spanish). You can also review the eligibility letter for Summer P-EBT (also available in Spanish).

North Carolina will issue a standard benefit payment for students and young children. Only one summer payment will be provided for a student or child. For the benefit amount, see "How much is the benefit for Summer P-EBT?"

No, you will not have to pay back P-EBT benefits. P-EBT is federally funded, and there is no cost to the recipient.

First, refer to “Is my student eligible for Summer 2022 P-EBT?” or “Is my young child eligible for Summer 2022 P-EBT?” to see if your child meets the criteria to be eligible. 

If your student or young child appears to be eligible, please check your FNS EBT or P-EBT card balance to see if the benefits have been issued to your account (see “How do I check my P-EBT and/or FNS card balance?”). Please note that benefit issuance will be spread over 10 days for the summer issuance, so please allow time for the benefits to be deposited.

If you did not receive any P-EBT benefits during the 2021-2022 school year and do not receive FNS benefits, a new P-EBT card will be mailed to you with summer benefits. Please allow up to three weeks for this card to arrive.

If you still believe your student or young child is eligible and have confirmed that you did not receive benefits by following the instructions above, you can contact the EBT Call Center at 1-866-719-0141.

Student P-EBT for Summer 2022

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Summer P-EBT is an extension of school year 2021-22 benefits. Eligibility requirements for Summer P-EBT are different than the requirements for the school year and are based on guidelines set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which has simplified eligibility for summer. Even if your student did not experience any COVID-19 related absences from school during the 2021-22 school year, they may be eligible for Summer P-EBT.

Student Eligibility

Summer P-EBT is an extension of the school year 2021-22 program. Initial eligibility will be determined based on student participation in free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in May 2022 (last full month of the 2021-22 school year). Students may also become eligible during the summer period if they apply and are approved for the NSLP free or reduced-price meals.

You can check to see if your student or young child is eligible for Summer P-EBT using the eligibility flowchart (also available in Spanish). 

Letters of eligibility will not be mailed for summer P-EBT. You can review the eligibility letter for Summer P-EBT (also available in Spanish).

To be eligible for Summer P-EBT, a student must be approved for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) free or reduced-price meals (FRP). This can be met in one of the following ways:

  1. Student was eligible for free or reduced-price (FRP) meals through the NSLP or attended a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school (schools where all students are eligible for FRP meals) in May 2022, OR
  2. Student applies for free or reduced-price (FRP) meals through the NSLP at any time during the covered summer period (June 1-Aug. 31)* and is approved for FRP; this includes FRP meal eligibility determined by direct certification with Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) eligibility

*For an application or information on how to apply for NSLP free or reduced-price meals, please contact your student’s school or local school district.

IMPORTANT:

  • Eligible students who have graduated at the end of the school year will receive Summer P-EBT benefits. 
  • Most students who apply for free or reduced-price meals between June 1 and Aug. 31 and receive approval will be eligible for the full Summer P-EBT benefit as late as December. 
  • Students who become eligible for FNS over the summer may be directly certified to automatically receive free or reduced-price meal eligibility. Find out if your household is eligible to receive FNS benefits and apply now.
  • For more information on when eligible students can expect to receive benefits, see “When will my student receive Summer P-EBT?”

You can check to see if your student or young child is eligible for Summer P-EBT using the eligibility flowchart (also available in Spanish). 

Letters of eligibility will not be mailed for summer P-EBT. You can review the eligibility letter for Summer P-EBT (also available in Spanish).

See "Is my student eligible for Summer 2022 P-EBT?" for more information on eligibility and how to become eligible over the summer.

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federal meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools. It provides low-cost or no-cost lunches to children each school day. The NSLP administers the free or reduced-price meal program, including meals at Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools, for eligible students that provides them with free meals or meals at a reduced-price through their school. Your child must attend a school that participates in the NSLP to be considered for P-EBT. Most public schools participate. Some charter and private schools participate, but some do not. Virtual schools and homeschools are not eligible.
 
Find out if your child’s school participates in the NSLP for the 2021-22 school year.

  • Households approved for Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) are automatically qualified for NSLP free or reduced-price meals. A household that does not receive FNS can apply for free or reduced-price meals through their participating school.
  • In some schools, called CEP schools (Community Eligibility Provision), all students in the school are eligible for the NSLP free or reduced-price meals. Determine if your child’s school is a CEP school for the 2021-22 school year. 

Some schools provide free school meals to all students through programs different from the NSLP CEP meal program. These other programs are not related to P-EBT. If your child’s school provides free meals through another program, you can still submit an application for the NSLP free or reduced-price meal program through the school in order to be considered for P-EBT eligibility.

Enrollment in a school summer learning program will not affect Summer P-EBT benefit eligibility or benefit amount. Students participating in in-person summer learning programs at school will be eligible to receive the full Summer P-EBT benefit if they meet the Summer P-EBT eligibility requirements.

See “Is my student eligible for Summer 2022 P-EBT?” for more eligibility information.

Your student must attend a school that participates in the National School Lunch (NSLP) program to be considered for Summer P-EBT. Some charter and private schools participate, and some do not. Homeschools and virtual academies are not eligible to participate in the NSLP. This eligibility requirement for Summer P-EBT is based on federal guidance provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Find out if your school participated in the National School Lunch program or was a CEP school for the 2021-22 school year.

Summer P-EBT benefits will be deposited on a family’s current FNS EBT card, existing P-EBT card, or a new P-EBT card. Please see below for three (3) scenarios on how your family will receive benefits based on your situation: 

  1. Households who receive FNS can expect P-EBT benefits to be deposited on their existing FNS EBT card.
  2. Households who do not receive FNS but were issued P-EBT at least once during the 2021-2022 school year can expect to receive benefits on their existing P-EBT card.
  3. Households who do not receive FNS and did not receive P-EBT during the 2021-2022 school year  but are now eligible for Summer P-EBT will receive a new P-EBT card in the mail to the address on file at the student’s school. This also includes families who have never received P-EBT before. 

Households in scenario three (3) can expect to receive a card in the mail approximately 1-3 weeks after issuance. 

If an original P-EBT card has been lost or destroyed, a new card can be ordered at www.ebtEdge.com, on the ebtEDGE mobile app or by contacting the EBT Call Center at 1-866-719-0141 (see “I never received (or lost) my P-EBT card. How can I request a new one?”).

Students who participated in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) free or reduced-price meals (FRP) during May 2022 will receive their one-time benefit between July 20-30. Benefits will be deposited over a 10-day period so please be patient.

Students who apply for FNS or NSLP free or reduced-price meals any time from June 1 to Aug. 31 and get approved will be eligible to receive the one-time benefit as late as December.

NCDHHS will post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter when the issuance begins. Small delays in issuance may occur so watch for the social media posts about the start of benefit issuance in July and September.

See “Is my student eligible for Summer 2022 P-EBT?” for information on eligibility and how to become eligible over the summer. See “How much is the benefit for Summer P-EBT?” for more information about the summer benefit amount.

Students who are experiencing homelessness or migrant

Please refer to “How will my student receive Summer P-EBT?” and “When will my student receive Summer P-EBT?” for more information.

If the school participated in the National School Lunch Program and was aware of the student’s situation in the 2021-2022 school year, they will have automatically been approved the child for free or reduced-price meals in school, which qualifies them for Summer P-EBT.

If your student needs a new card, one will be mailed to the last known student address on record in your FNS case (if you have one) or the last known address at the student’s school. Families are encouraged to confirm their addresses are correct and update addresses if they are wrong.

Students in Foster Care

Eligible students in foster care who received P-EBT benefits during school year 2021-22 can expect to receive benefits on their existing P-EBT card. 

If a student in foster care did not receive P-EBT during the school year 2021-22 but is now eligible for Summer P-EBT, then a new card will be mailed for them. Cards will be issued in the student's name and mailed to the local county Department of Social Services (DSS) office that has custody of the foster care student. The student's foster care social worker will get the card to the student. 

P-EBT is for the benefit of the student and any remaining benefits should follow the student when they change placements or are reunited with the family. The student's foster care social worker will make sure the P-EBT card moves with the foster child when they experience placement changes.

Please contact the student's foster care social worker for any questions about getting their P-EBT card.

Child Care P-EBT for Summer 2022

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Summer P-EBT is an extension of the school year 2021-22 program. Like during the school year, the child's age and participation in Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) are used to determine eligibility.

Child Care Eligibility

To be eligible for Summer P-EBT, a young child that does not already receive summer P-EBT as a student must meet the following criteria:

  1. The child must be 5 years old or younger as of Sept. 1, 2021 (considered the start of the 2021-2022 school year), AND
  2. The child must receive Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) benefits. This criterion can be met through one of two ways:
    • The child was included in an active FNS case during the month of May 2022 OR
    • The child is added to an FNS case during the summer or an application for FNS is submitted by Aug. 31 and gets approved

Find out if your household is eligible to receive FNS benefits and apply now. Applications must be received by Aug. 31, 2022 to be considered for Summer P-EBT.

You can check to see if your student or young child is eligible for Summer P-EBT using the eligibility flowchart (also available in Spanish). 

Letters of eligibility will not be mailed for summer P-EBT. You can review the eligibility letter for Summer P-EBT (also available in Spanish).

See "Is my young child eligible for Summer 2022 P-EBT?" for more information on eligibility and how to become eligible over the summer.

Children must be part of a household that receives Food and Nutrition Services (FNS). Households with children in subsidized or other child care who are not enrolled in FNS are not eligible to receive Summer P-EBT. 

If you are not currently receiving FNS and believe your family may be eligible, please visit https://www.ncdhhs.gov/FNS for more information or to apply.

P-EBT benefits will be deposited on your family’s existing FNS EBT card. 

If you lost your FNS EBT card, a new one can be ordered at www.ebtEdge.com, on the ebtEDGE mobile app or by contacting the EBT Call Center at 1-888-622-7328.

Young children included in an active FNS case between May 1 and up to the first issuance of Summer P-EBT will receive their one-time benefit between late July and early August. Children who become newly eligible for FNS and did not receive benefits in the first issuance will be eligible to receive the one-time benefit as late as December, as long as the household applied for FNS by Aug. 31, 2022.

NCDHHS will post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter when the issuance begins. Small delays in issuance may occur so watch for the social media posts about the start of benefit issuance in July and September.

See “Is my young child eligible for Summer 2022 P-EBT?” for information on eligibility and how to become eligible over the summer. See “How much is the benefit for Summer P-EBT?” for more information about the summer benefit amount.

2021-22 SCHOOL YEAR P-EBT FAQS

Jump to: Student School Year P-EBT | Child Care School Year P-EBT

Student P-EBT in the 2021-22 School Year

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Eligibility criteria has changed for Student P-EBT this school year to comply with federal rules. Eligibility is now based on the attendance of an individual student, not the circumstances of the school.

There is still no application for P-EBT. 

You may check to see if your student is eligible for P-EBT for a given month using the student eligibility flowchart in English or Spanish.

New this year, students must have experienced temporary virtual instruction and/or a period of quarantine, and this must be marked in their school attendance record. 

Like last year, students also must be approved for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) free or reduced-price meal program to be eligible for Student P-EBT. Please contact your child’s school if you would like to apply for NSLP free or reduced-price meals.

Students must meet ALL 3 of the following requirements to be eligible for P-EBT:

  1. Student attends a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). See “What is the National School Lunch Program? How do I know if my child’s school participates?” for more information. Please note that virtual academies and homeschools are not NSLP eligible, and, therefore, students enrolled in those schools will not receive P-EBT.

  2. Student is approved for free or reduced-price meals through the NSLP.
    • You DO need to apply for NSLP free or reduced-price meals through your school if:

      • Your child attends a school that participates in the NSLP and is not in any of the categories listed below.
    • You do NOT need to apply for NSLP if your child is in any of these categories:
      • Your child attends a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school. Check this list to see if your child’s school is a CEP school.
      • Your household receives FNS. You should automatically be approved for NSLP free or reduced-price school meals through Direct Certification (automatic enrollment) between NCDHHS and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).
      • Your child is categorically eligible for NSLP through circumstances such as when children are experiencing homelessness, foster care, or migrant. Children in these circumstances are automatically eligible for NSLP free or reduced-price meals when the school knows about these situations. If you would like to report that your child is experiencing any of these situations, please contact your child’s school.
  3. Student has been away from school in quarantine and/or in temporary virtual instruction while enrolled in a NSLP participating physical school. See “What is a COVID-19 related absence? What counts as quarantine and temporary virtual instruction? Who determines if my child’s absence was related to COVID-19?.” Please note students enrolled in virtual academies and homeschools cannot receive P-EBT even if they are quarantined because federal rules state that these schools cannot participate in the NSLP. North Carolina cannot change this rule.

    Find out if your child’s school participates in the National School Lunch Program or is a CEP school for the 2021-22 school year.

    See “How much will I get in benefits? How is the benefit amount determined?” for information on benefit amount. 

You may check to see if your student is eligible for Student P-EBT for a given month using the student eligibility flowchart in English or Spanish.

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a food assistance program for eligible students that provides them with free or reduced-price meals through their school. Your child must attend a school that participates in NSLP to be considered for P-EBT. Most public schools participate. Some charter and private schools participate, but some do not. Virtual schools and homeschools are not eligible.
 
Find out if your child’s school participates in the NSLP for the 2021-22 school year.

Households approved for Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) are automatically qualified for NSLP free or reduced-price meals. A household that does not receive FNS can apply for free or reduced-price meals through their participating school.

In some schools, called CEP schools (Community Eligibility Provision), all students in the school are eligible for the NSLP free or reduced-price meals. Determine if your child’s school is a CEP school for the 2021-22 school year.

Some schools provide free school meals to all students through programs different from the NSLP CEP meal program. These other programs are not related to P-EBT. If your child’s school provides free meals through another program, you can still submit an application for the NSLP free or reduced-price meal program through the school in order to be considered for P-EBT eligibility.

A COVID-19 related absence means that a student is not physically present in the school building for in-person instruction because of a COVID-19 related situation. This includes quarantine and temporary virtual instruction. For example, if your child’s school communicates that all (or some) students will have online class for two weeks because of a COVID-19 outbreak, this would be considered a COVID-19 related absence from school. 

Quarantine (attendance code: 1D) refers to when the school tells the student to stay home because of COVID-19 related symptoms, illness or exposure or when a parent/guardian informs the school about a student's COVID-19 related symptoms, illness or exposure and the school approves the absence.

Temporary virtual instruction (attendance code: 1R for present off-site) refers to when the student is enrolled in a physical school but is in virtual or remote learning for a temporary period because of COVID-19. Students can be in temporary virtual instruction only if they are enrolled in a physical school. 

Your child’s school will determine if their absence is related to COVID-19 and will record that in their attendance record using specific codes. Contact your child’s school if you have questions about your child’s attendance record.

Once your student’s school updates their attendance record with code 1D (quarantine) or 1R (temporary virtual/remote instruction), it will take approximately one month to receive corrective P-EBT benefits since attendance records are collected from schools on the 10th of each month and benefits are issued at the end of each month. If it has been longer than one month and benefits have not been received, please contact the EBT Call Center at 1-888-622-7328.

Just like the regular free or reduced-price meal program, students will not receive P-EBT for days when school is not in session, including winter and spring break. This also includes days when school is not in session due to weather-related closures. P-EBT is designed to provide benefits for students who miss regularly scheduled in-person classes due to COVID-19 related absences.

Eligibility for P-EBT and benefit amounts have changed this year and are now based on the individual student’s attendance record, not the circumstances of the school. Refer to “Who is eligible for Student P-EBT?” to learn more.

With USDA’s new P-EBT program rules and most schools back to in-person learning with students having their meals at school, many households that received P-EBT benefits last year will not get them this year or may only get a small amount for the days when their student is in quarantine and/or temporary virtual instruction. Refer to “What is a COVID-19 related absence? What counts as quarantine and temporary virtual instruction? Who determines if my child’s absence was related to COVID-19?” for more information about eligible benefit days.

If your child is not P-EBT eligible, there are other resources that may be available if your household does not have access to food for proper nutrition. See “If my child does not qualify to receive P-EBT benefits, what other food assistance resources are available to me?” for more information.

Be sure to confirm and update your household’s information with your FNS case worker or student’s school to ensure that benefits are correctly issued if your student becomes eligible at any time in the school year.

First, refer to “Who is eligible for Student P-EBT?” to see if your child meets the new criteria to be eligible. Be sure to check your child’s attendance record to confirm their eligibility each month. 

Then, if you believe your child is eligible and you have an FNS card or existing P-EBT card, check to see if the benefits have been issued to that card (see “How do I check my P-EBT and/or FNS card balance?”). Please note that benefit issuance will be spread over several days each month, so allow time for the benefits to be deposited.

With USDA’s new P-EBT program rules and most students back to in-person learning and getting meals at school, most households who received P-EBT benefits last year will not get them this year or may only get a small amount for when their student’s attendance record shows days in quarantine and/or temporary virtual instruction.

If you still believe your child is eligible and have confirmed that you have not received benefits by following the instructions above, you can contact the EBT Call Center at 1-866-719-0141.

Eligibility and benefit amount for P-EBT is determined for each individual student each month.

If a household has more than one eligible student, the students may receive different benefit amounts based on their individual attendance records. If the students attend different schools, eligibility for P-EBT benefits can vary by child (see “Who is eligible for Student P-EBT?”).

Benefit amounts for Student P-EBT are determined by school attendance records reported by the child’s school. The benefit amount will be calculated using the number of days the student’s attendance record shows they were quarantined and/or in temporary virtual instruction (P-EBT eligible days) within the month. The student will receive $7.10 for each eligible day. 

Benefit calculation formula:

Number of days in quarantine/temporary virtual instruction.
 
    x                          $7.10 (daily benefit rate) 

benefit amount for the month

  • Example: In February, a student spent five days in quarantine, five days in temporary virtual instruction and nine days at school in-person for a total of 10 P-EBT eligible days. Ten days multiplied by the $7.10 daily benefit rate equals a benefit amount of $71.00 for the month of February. These benefits would be issued by the end of March.

Since most students are attending school in person, most students will not get P-EBT benefits. Students will only get benefits for months when they have a COVID-19 related absence from school (quarantine or temporary virtual instruction). Benefit amounts will vary by month and by student depending on attendance records.

Important: If you believe you got the wrong benefit amount because of the number of days your child was in quarantine or temporary virtual instruction (see “What is a COVID-19 related absence? Who determines if my child’s absence was related to COVID 19?” for more information and definitions of these terms), contact your child’s school to review their attendance record and ask the school to update the records if they are wrong. Changes to attendance are at the school’s discretion.

Yes. For Student P-EBT, the benefit amount is calculated using attendance records submitted by the student’s school. A student may have no virtual instruction or quarantine days in a month, which would equal $0 in P-EBT benefits. In addition, the number of days in temporary virtual instruction or quarantine (if any) will change each month, resulting in a different P-EBT benefit amount. This means a student may get no benefits for one month and different benefit amounts other months based on the number of eligible days in their attendance record.

Please refer to “How much will I get in benefits? How is the benefit amount determined?” for more information.

How:

You should receive a letter the first month this school year that your child is determined to be eligible for P-EBT benefits.*

*Note: With the continued impact of COVID-19 on supplies for mailing notices, NCDHHS will send notices first to those who have never received P-EBT before. Once supplies are available, NCDHHS plans to send the remaining notices to households as soon as possible. If you think you are eligible for P-EBT benefits, please check your ebtEDGE account or card balance to check for a P-EBT deposit (see “How do I check my P-EBT and/or FNS card balance?”).

Households that have gotten P-EBT benefits in the past should keep their existing cards because any future benefits for which they are eligible will be put on that card (Note: All foster care students will get new P-EBT cards for this year). 

If a household receives FNS, P-EBT benefits will be put on their FNS EBT card. In some cases, these households may receive a new card with their benefits.

Benefits for students who have not gotten P-EBT before and who do not receive FNS will get their benefits on a new P-EBT card. This card will arrive in the mail 1-2 weeks after the P-EBT issuance. 

If an original P-EBT card has been lost or destroyed, a new card can be ordered at www.ebtEdge.com, on the ebtEDGE mobile app or by contacting the EBT Call Center at 1-866-719-0141 (see “I never received (or lost) my P-EBT card. How can I request a new one?”).

When:

First issuance for the 2021-22 school year

P-EBT benefits for the 2021-22 school year were first issued January/February 2022 for students who were eligible during the time period from September to November 2021. Students will only get benefits for months they are eligible according to their school attendance records, and many students will not get P-EBT benefits every month. See “Who is eligible for Student P-EBT?” and “How much will I get in benefits? How is the benefit amount determined?” for more information.

P-EBT benefits will show up on existing EBT cards 1-4 days after the benefits are issued. If you are eligible for multiple months, the benefits may be deposited on your EBT card over several days.

Ongoing issuances for the rest of the 2021-22 school year

Regularly scheduled benefit issuance will begin in January. Benefits will be issued retroactively, starting with December benefits issued in January. This means students will receive benefits one month after the month that they are eligible (February benefits will be issued in March, March benefits will be issued in April, and so on). NCDHHS aims to issue benefits in the last week of each month (approximately between the 25th-30th of each month). 

Please be patient as benefits may take up to 3 days to show available. Those who are newly eligible for P-EBT benefits and do not already have an EBT card can expect to get their EBT card through the mail 1-2 weeks after the P-EBT issuance.

See “Who is eligible for Student P-EBT” for information on eligibility criteria.

If you never received your P-EBT card, if you are unable to get your card, or if your card is lost, refer to “I never received (or lost) my P-EBT card. How can I request a new one?” to learn how to request a new card.

Students in Foster Care

New P-EBT cards will be mailed out for all students in foster care the first month that they are eligible. Cards will be issued in the student's name and mailed to the local county DSS office that has custody of the foster care student. The student's foster care social worker will get the card to the student.

P-EBT is for the benefit of the child and any remaining benefits should follow the student when they change placements or are reunited with the family. The student's foster care social worker will make sure the P-EBT card moves with the foster child when they experience placement changes.

Please contact the student's foster care social worker for any questions about getting their P-EBT card.

Students who are experiencing homelessness or migrant

If you already have an FNS card or P-EBT card and are eligible for P-EBT benefits again this year, you can expect to receive P-EBT benefits on the card you already have in most cases. If you become eligible for P-EBT for the first time this year and do not have an FNS EBT card, then a P-EBT card will be mailed to the last known student address on record in your FNS case (if you have one) or the last known address at the student’s school. Families are encouraged to confirm their addresses are correct and update addresses if they are wrong. 

If you get FNS benefits you can change your address by calling your FNS caseworker. If you do not get FNS benefits, you can update your address with your student’s school.

If an original P-EBT card was never received or has been lost, damaged or stolen, a new card can be ordered at www.ebtEdge.com or by contacting the EBT Call Center at 1-888-622-7328.

To request a new card using www.ebtEdge.com follow the steps below. Once you’ve completed the steps below, your current card will be canceled, and you will not be able to access your benefits until your new card arrives in 1-2 weeks. 

  1. Log into the Cardholder Portal. If it is your first time, you will be prompted to register (see “How do I use ebtEDGE (EBT Cardholder Portal) for my EBT account?”). Select a card from the Welcome page, then select “Replace Card.”
  2. Select the reason for your new card request (lost, damaged, or stolen).
  3. Verify your identity by following the prompts.
  4. A confirmation message will appear on the screen that your request was successfully processed. Your current card will be canceled, and you will not be able to access your benefits until your new card arrives in 1-2 weeks.
  5. Once you receive a new card, you must activate it. Please see “How do I activate my P-EBT card and create a Personal Identification Number (PIN)? What date of birth (DOB) do I use to activate my card?” for a step-by-step guide.

Please note: If you receive an error message at any point in this process, you can contact the EBT Call Center at 1-888-622-7328.

Student P-EBT benefits are issued to the address and caregiver provided by the child’s school. The P-EBT card might be in the parent or guardian’s name. It is okay to use the card that was provided to you if the student(s) is in your care and you provide their meals. 

If you believe the benefits were incorrectly issued, please contact the North Carolina EBT Call Center at 1-866-719-0141. 

P-EBT benefits are intended to help provide meals for the eligible student, so when the student changes households or caregivers, the benefits should go with them. The caregiver is the person that provides the meals for the student. 

If the student is moving to a household that receives FNS:

  1. Report the household change to your FNS caseworker at your local DSS office so the child can be added to your FNS case.
  2. Once the change in your FNS case is complete, any future P-EBT benefits will be provided to the new household on their FNS card. Any remaining benefits issued before the change will remain with the prior FNS account.

If the student is moving to a household that does not receive FNS:

  1. Update both the student’s caregiver and student’s address at their school. It’s important that both are updated at the same time to ensure benefits are issued to the correct household.
  2. Once the changes have been made, any future P-EBT benefits will be provided to the new household on a new P-EBT card that will be mailed to the student’s new address. Any benefits still with the prior P-EBT account will remain with that account. The prior caregiver can give the new caregiver the P-EBT card to go with the child.

When your P-EBT card arrives it will already be loaded with the benefits that your student was eligible for. To access these benefits, you will need to activate your card and create a PIN. You can easily set your PIN three ways: online by visiting www.ebtEdge.com, through the ebtEDGE mobile app, or through the EBT Call Center IVR.

Important: To activate your card, you will be asked to enter the date of birth (DOB) associated with the card. Enter the DOB of the youngest student who was first eligible for P-EBT in the household. Enter the DOB as two digits for the month, two digits for the day, and four digits for the year (MM/DD/YYYY). For example, January 24, 2014 would be entered as 01242014. If there are multiple children in your household, you may need to try each child’s DOB to successfully activate your P-EBT card.

Example: The household consists of 3 students; one is 8 years old (DOB: 02/15/2014), one is 13 years old (DOB: 04/04/2009) and one is 15 years old (DOB: 01/01/2007), and the 13-year-old was the first to be eligible for P-EBT this school year. To activate the card, enter the date of birth for the 13-year-old (04042007). If the 13-year-old student’s DOB does not work, try entering the other student’s dates of birth. 

Option 1: www.ebtEdge.com

  1. Log into your account. If it is your first time, you will be prompted to register (see “How do I use ebtEDGE (EBT Cardholder Portal) for my EBT account?”).
  2. Select a card from the Welcome page. 
  3. Click on “Pin Select” and enter the requested information to confirm your identity.
  4. Confirm your PIN.
  5. Click on the “Save” button, and a confirmation message will appear.

Option 2: ebtEDGE mobile app (available on iPhone and Android)

  1. Download the ebtEDGE mobile app from the App Store or Google Play Store.
  1. Log into your account. If it is your first time, you will be prompted to register (see “How do I use ebtEDGE (EBT Cardholder Portal) for my EBT account?”).
  2. Select a card from the Welcome page. 
  3. Click on “Pin Select” and enter the requested information to confirm your identity.
  4. Confirm your PIN.
  5. Click on the “Save” button, and a confirmation message will appear.

Option 3: EBT Call Center IVR

  1. Make sure you have your 16-digit card number readily available.
  2. Call 1-888-622-7328 and follow the prompts to activate your card.

Child Care P-EBT in the 2021-22 School Year

Tab/Accordion Item

Eligibility criteria for Child Care P-EBT has not changed this year. However, the monthly statewide benefit amount will vary. See “How much will I get in benefits? How is the benefit amount determined?” for information on benefit amount.

Like last year, there is no application for P-EBT. To be eligible for P-EBT, a child must be 5 years old or younger and must be part of an active FNS case.

IMPORTANT: If your child turns 6 years old during the school year and is not part of the Student P-EBT group, they will continue to receive Child Care P-EBT ONLY IF they are still on an active FNS case.

You may check to see if your child is eligible for Child Care P-EBT for a given month using the child care eligibility flowchart in English or Spanish.

You may check to see if your child is eligible for Child Care P-EBT for a given month using the child care eligibility flowchart in English or Spanish.

Eligibility for P-EBT is based on the age of your child and whether they belong to an active FNS case. If your child turned 6 years old before September 1, 2021, they are not eligible for Child Care P-EBT but may be eligible for Student P-EBT. Similarly, if your child is still under the age of 6 but no longer part of an active FNS case, they are not eligible for Child Care P-EBT. Refer to “Who is eligible for Child Care P-EBT?” and “Who is eligible for Student P-EBT?” to learn more.

If your child is not eligible, there are other resources that may be available if your household does not have access to food for proper nutrition. See “If my child does not qualify to receive P-EBT benefits, what other food assistance resources are available to me?” for more information.

First, refer to “Who is eligible for Child Care P-EBT?” to see if your child meets the criteria to be eligible. 

Then, if you believe your child is eligible, please check your FNS card account to see if the benefits have been issued to your account even if you didn’t receive an eligibility letter in the mail (see “How do I check my P-EBT and/or FNS card balance?”). Please note that benefit issuance will be spread over several days each month, so allow time for the benefits to be deposited.

If you still believe your child is eligible and have confirmed that you have not received benefits by following the instructions above, you can contact the EBT Call Center at 1-866-719-0141.

Eligibility for P-EBT is determined for each individual child. If your child turns 6 years old during the school year and is not part of Student P-EBT, they will continue to receive Child Care P-EBT ONLY IF they are still on an active FNS case. Each month, North Carolina will confirm that each child is still on an active case.

All eligible young children will receive a statewide benefit amount set by NCDHHS each month according to USDA rules. However, that benefit amount will likely change every month depending on COVID-19’s impact on child care centers across the state.

North Carolina will set a statewide benefit amount each month based on guidance from USDA. All eligible children across the state will receive the same amount. However, this amount will likely change each month. View the monthly benefit amount; the amount for each month will be added to the table when it is determined with each issuance. 

For Child Care P-EBT, the benefit amount will change each month depending on the reduction of meals served in child care centers. If there is no reduction for the month, this would result in $0 of benefits for that month.

How:

P-EBT benefits will be put on your FNS EBT card. 

If you lost your FNS EBT card, a new one can be ordered at www.ebtEdge.com, on the ebtEDGE mobile app or by contacting the EBT Call Center at 1-888-622-7328.

When:

Child Care P-EBT benefits will be issued monthly based on the chart below. Starting in May, each issuance will contain two months of benefits. NCDHHS aims to regularly issue benefits in the last week of the month (approximately between the 25th and 30th). Please be patient as benefits may take up to 3 days to show available.

See “Who is eligible for Child Care P-EBT?” and “How much will I get in benefits? How is the benefit amount determined?” for more information.

NCDHHS will post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter when the issuance begins.

Please see the chart below for a calendar of the benefit issuances.

Benefit Month(s) Month Issued
September and October 2021 May
November and December 2021 June
January and February 2022 July
March, April and May 2022 August

Children in foster care who are eligible under the established criteria may receive P-EBT benefits. See “Who is eligible for Child Care P-EBT?” for information on eligibility criteria.

To be eligible for P-EBT, a foster child’s household must receive FNS and that foster child must be included in that household’s FNS case. If the child is not listed on the FNS case, they will not receive benefits.

If you are interested in adding a child to your FNS case, please contact your local county DSS office. Please note that adding the child to your case may result in a change in the calculation of income on your specific FNS case.

P-EBT benefits will be issued on the most recent EBT card of the most recent FNS case that the child belongs to.

If you lost your FNS card, a new one can be ordered at www.ebtEdge.com, on the ebtEDGE mobile app or by contacting the EBT Call Center at 1-888-622-7328.

P-EBT benefits are intended to help provide meals for the eligible child, so when the child changes households or caregivers, the benefits should go with them. The caregiver is the person that provides the meals for the child. 

Your child will receive benefits on the FNS EBT card of the most recent FNS case that they are on. To report a change in caregiver, please contact your FNS caseworker.