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​New DSS Programs Benefit Families During COVID-19


The Department of Social Services (DSS) is launching new programs and services to keep children and families healthy and safe during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The programs include a new initiative to feed children who cannot access meals due to school closures, online purchasing with Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card and opportunities for Telehealth services.

New Food Program Launched to Feed Children in Need
North Carolina has been approved to operate Pandemic EBT, a new program authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), signed by President Trump, which provides assistance to families of children eligible for free or reduced-price meals dealing with school closures.

Pandemic EBT will be operated as a supplemental food purchasing benefit to current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants and as a new EBT benefit to other eligible households to offset the cost of meals that would have otherwise been consumed at school but are not available due to pandemic-related closures.

The implementation of Pandemic EBT is part of the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) commitment to keep children fed while schools are closed due to COVID-19.  Previous pandemic-related actions taken by the USDA include:

  • Allowing parents and guardians to pick up meals to bring home to their kids;
  • Temporarily waiving meal times requirements to make it easier to pick up multiple-days' worth of meals at once;
  • Allowing meals be served in non-congregate settings to support social distancing;
  • Waiving the requirement that afterschool meals and snacks served through certain programs be accompanied by educational activities to minimize exposure to the novel coronavirus; and
  • Allowing states to serve free meals to children in all areas, rather than only those in areas where at least half of students receive free or reduced-price meals.

The USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has implemented other activities during this national emergency including an interactive "Meals for Kids" food identification site, a new coronavirus webpage and increasing access to online purchasing . 

These actions and more are part of USDA's focus on service during the COVID-19 outbreak. To learn more about FNS's response to COVID-19, visit

Electronic Benefit Transfer Cards Approved for Online Purchasing with Amazon and Walmart

North Carolina FNS participants will soon be able to purchase groceries online using their EBT cards at Amazon and Walmart.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) requested online purchasing flexibility for FNS households and this request was approved earlier today by the USDA. This upcoming change allows greater flexibility for participants to obtain food while also promoting social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, this will help families with transportation and mobility barriers. This will also remain in place as an ongoing opportunity for FNS recipients beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

The USDA must approve other retailers who wish to participate in the FNS online purchasing program. Currently, Amazon and Walmart are the only authorized retailers approved for online FNS purchases. All EBT retailers in North Carolina have received information from the USDA about how to become approved for online FNS purchases and are encouraged to seek approval for online purchasing.

Medicaid Recipients Can Now Take Advantage of Telehealth Services
North Carolina Medicaid recipients can now take advantage of temporary changes in services by using the Telehealth option with their healthcare providers.  This service is offered as a way to keep people safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How can Telehealth help me stay healthy?

  • Telehealth is a way for your doctor to provide you care by telephone, smartphone

or computer from the comfort of your home.

  • You can receive therapy, mental health and some developmental disability

    services by telephone, smartphone or computer.
  • Your visual aid (eyeglasses and medically necessary contact lenses) and hearing

    aid providers can provide some services by telephone.
  • Telehealth is a great way to keep taking care of your health without having to leave

    your home. For many visits, including if you feel sick, telehealth can protect you

    and others from COVID-19.


To learn more about Telehealth, go to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services'  website.