Over the last three years, it’s often seemed as though local, state and federal government benefits in response to the COVID-19 pandemic would be never-ending.  Apparently, that’s not the case.

On Thursday, Jan. 12, the State of North Carolina announced in a press release that extra benefits in the state’s Food and Nutrition Services program (once known as the “food stamp program”) will end in March.

Those extra benefits will end in all other states as well.

Households that have been receiving the extra food benefits – called “emergency allotments” – since March 2020 or later, will see a reduction in benefits due to the change.

During the pandemic, families and individuals enrolled in the food benefits program in North Carolina started receiving at least $95 extra per month.  With the end of those emergency benefits, the average benefit per person per day in the state will soon decrease from $8.12 to $5.45.

NC Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy Secretary for Opportunity and Well-Being Susan Gale Perry stated in the press release that the department will continue to support those who need the benefits.

“Families needed these additional benefits to get healthy and nutritious food throughout the pandemic,” Perry stated. “While Food and Nutrition Services’ emergency payments are ending, the need is not.  We will continue to prioritize food security for all North Carolinians.”

Since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, an average of 900,000 North Carolina households received the emergency allotments of food benefits – which cost the federal government about $150 million extra each month.

According to the information sent out by the state, “Beneficiaries will continue to receive their regular monthly benefit amounts in March 2023 based on a person’s or household’s current eligibility, income, household size and other federal eligibility requirements.”

Benefit recipients can view their regular monthly benefit amounts – as well as their emergency allotment amounts ­ – online at www.ebtedge.com.

Those in the state who need food assistance can find out more information at www.ncdhhs.gov/foodresources.

State residents can apply for food benefits online or fill out a paper application and mail it to their county’s social services department or drop it off in person.