Attacking “food insecurity” has been a key goal of North Carolina government for years and this summer is certainly not going to be an exception.

Eligible kids across the state will receive old and new benefits this summer to make sure they have access to nutritious meals.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) announced on Thursday, June 23, that it had received approval from the US Department of Agriculture to extend previous Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) food assistance program through Summer 2022.

The extension of the program will mean that about $303 million in food assistance benefits will be provided to an estimated 975,000 children in the state.

NCDHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley stated in a press release that this announcement should help mitigate the worries of families with kids who might have been concerned about getting enough to eat in the coming months.

“For some kids, summer vacation means wondering where their next meal will come from,” Kinsley said. “Children need healthy food to grow and learn, and we will continue to do everything we can to support this effort as part of the NCDHHS priority to improve child and family well-being.”

According to state officials, school students who received free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program in May of 2022 are among those eligible for the extended benefits.

According to NC Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt, these benefits –  and those from the National School Lunch Program – are extremely important to improving student performance and creating better outcomes

She added that she’s thrilled the assistance will continue for children and their families.”

Families can access important P-EBT information and updates on the P-EBT website, which can be found by googling “P-EBT.” Details about the benefit issuance schedule will be posted on the website and shared on social media, and the one-time benefit amounts will be added to the website once they are finalized by the USDA.

To access Summer P-EBT benefits, a student who’s not already approved for free or reduced-price meals must apply by Aug. 31, 2022. If approved for free or reduced-price meals, the student will automatically be eligible for Summer P-EBT.

To apply, contact your student’s school or school district.

Young children under age six receiving FNS benefits and Child Care P-EBT benefits for the 2021-2022 school year are automatically eligible but should check their status to assure participation.