Food & Nutrition


Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) is a federal food assistance program that helps low-income families. In North Carolina, monthly allotments of FNS benefits are issued via Electronic Benefit Transfer cards (EBT cards). The purpose of Food and Nutrition Services is to end hunger and improve nutrition and health. It helps eligible low-income households buy the food they need for a nutritionally adequate diet.

Food and Nutrition Services is an entitlement program, so all eligible individuals and households can receive assistance. Benefits may be used to purchase most foods at participating stores. They may not be used to purchase tobacco, pet food, paper products, soap products, or alcoholic beverages.

Eligible households must have the opportunity to access benefits no later than thirty days from the date of application. Individuals with special circumstances must have an opportunity to use their benefits within seven days from the date of application.

Applicant Criteria


All households must meet an income test to receive benefits. Income limits vary by household size.

You may be eligible for Food and Nutrition Services if your total income falls below the appropriate gross income limits for your household size. Please be aware that the eligibility workers at your local county Department of Social Services determine which income limit applies to your household and have many other factors to consider in determining if you are eligible.

"Household" size refers to the number in the household who may be eligible for FNS. Individuals who receive SSI, WFFA, or the household contains an aged or disabled individual may have different eligibility requirements.

North Carolina residents can apply for Food and Nutrition services online by using an application called ePASS.

To apply for Food and Nutrition Services online go to the North Carolina ePASS website

FNSU Size130% Maximum Gross Income Limit200% Maximum Gross Income LimitMaximum Benefit Allotment
Each Additional Member

Household Composition

Individuals residing together, but purchasing and preparing their meals separately, may participate in FNS as a separate household. Some individuals must participate in FNS as one household even though they purchase and prepare their meals separately.

Individuals who must participate in FNS as one household are:

  • Individuals living together who purchase/prepare their food together or will do so upon receipt of food assistance
  • Spouses living together or individuals representing themselves as husband and wife to the community
  • Individuals under 22 living with a parent
  • Individuals under 18 under the parental control of an adult living in the home; or
  • Two unmarried adults living in the same home who are parents of a mutual child

Citizenship/Immigration Status

Each member of the FNS household must be a U.S. Citizen or an immigrant admitted to the United States under a specific immigration status. Citizens and eligible immigrants must also meet all other FNS eligibility requirements to receive assistance.

You can choose not to apply for yourself or members of your household and are not required to answer questions about Social Security Numbers (SSNs) and citizenship/immigration information for those you choose not to apply for. For each individual that you are applying for you must provide information about SSNs and citizenship/immigration status. Providing a SSN is required by the Food and Nutrition Act for applicants seeking benefits. We will not share SSNs with INS. We will only use the SSNs you give us to do computer matches and check what you told us with State and Federal Agencies. You must be a United States (U.S.) citizen or an eligible alien and also meet other Food and Nutrition Services rules to get Food and Nutrition Services benefits. We will only contact USCIS to check the immigration status on the household members who give us their immigrant documents. If an applicant does not provide this information, they will be ineligible for benefits.

Household members must provide their financial information because it is needed to determine eligibility for individuals who are applying. Eligible household members who apply will be able to get benefits even though some people in the household are not applying for benefits. The amount of benefits will depend on the number of people requesting benefits.


Some households may be subject to a resource test. For households subject to the resource test the household may have $2,250 in countable resources, such as bank accounts and money in certain retirement accounts. Households may have $3,250 if at least one person is age 60 or older or disabled. Certain resources are not counted, such as homes, buildings, and land. The resources of people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Work First payments or services, or households that are Categorically Eligible are not countable.

Many women and children in Food and Nutrition Services households are also eligible for food assistance through the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) program, administered by the NC Division of Public Health.

To learn more about Food and Nutrition Services please visit the United States Department of Agriculture's website

If you have questions or comments learn how to contact the North Carolina DHHS.

Your Rights

You have the right to:

  • Receive an application when you ask for it.
  • Turn in your application the same day you receive it.
  • Receive your Food and Nutrition Services (or be notified that you are not eligible for the program) within 30 days after you turn in your application.
  • Receive Food and Nutrition Services within 7 days if you are eligible for emergency benefits.
  • Have a fair hearing if you disagree with any action taken on your case.

If you have not received your Food and Nutrition Services Benefits within the timeframe described above, please contact your local County Department of Social Services. Contact information for local offices can be found on the NC DHHS website

If your local office cannot assist you regarding your benefits, contact the NC EBT Call Center at 866-719-0141. If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the.

USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form can be found online at the U.S. Department of Agriculture website or at any USDA office, or call 866-632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax 202-690-7442, or email the USDA here. In accordance with Federal Law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs, or disability. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.