The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is asking everyone who receives food benefits through various programs to keep their information current because it will let the state know who’s eligible for a new program that’s expected to provide food to almost one million school children across the state during the summer months when school is out.

NCDHHS has been working with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to establish the program. On Tuesday, March 5, NCDHHS announced its intent to administer the US Department of Agriculture’s new Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Program called “SUN Bucks.”

The families that qualify will receive a one-time payment of $120 per eligible child for the summer period. SUN Bucks will be distributed to families on debit-like cards that will allow members of the family to buy groceries at stores that accept the current EBT debit card. That includes most major grocery stores across the state.

In a press release announcing the new benefits, NCDHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley stated this should help the kids in more ways than one.

“Food is foundational to health,” Kinsley said. “The SUN Bucks program will help relieve kids’ hunger, support their health and promote the ability for them to learn.”

The SUN Bucks program will work together this summer with other nutrition aid programs.

Most eligible children will automatically qualify for the program. However, some families will need to apply for the new benefit. Children automatically qualify if they’re already eligible for any of the following programs:

• Free and reduced-price meals at schools

• Food and Nutrition Services

• Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Also, if a family currently receives NC Medicaid benefits and has a household income below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, they’ll automatically qualify.

If your child is already individually approved to receive free and reduced-price meals at school, you have until March 28 to update your address at your child’s school to make sure you receive the SUN Bucks card at the correct mailing address during the summer.

You can visit for eligibility criteria and other information.