Catawba County News
Catawba County Social Services Provides Guidance to Local FNS Food Assistance Recipients
January 16, 2019
Catawba County Social Services, which facilitates the Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) benefits application process for Catawba County residents, is working closely with the state to monitor the local impact of the federal shutdown on these benefits. Made available through EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) cards, these benefits are also commonly referred to as EBT or food stamp benefits.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced it will provide February FNS benefits to current recipients on January 20, 2019. These benefits would have normally been distributed between February 3 and February 21, 2019.
To help keep local FNS benefits recipients informed about this change, Catawba County Social Services has issued the following guidance:
- On January 20, 2019, households already receiving FNS benefits will receive their February benefits.
- These are not extra or bonus benefits, as no further benefits will be issued in February. As a result, recipients are encouraged to budget and plan accordingly.
- Current recipients can access their account information through an app called ebtEDGE or by calling the number listed on the back of their EBT card.
- New applications for FNS food assistance will continue to be taken and processed at Catawba County Social Services, but there is no guarantee benefits will begin until after the government resolves the shutdown.
- The USDA has not provided information about the availability of FNS benefits beyond February while the shutdown is in effect.
- Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and Veterans Administration benefits are not impacted by the current shutdown.
“Currently, more than 19,000 people in Catawba County receive some level of FNS food assistance benefits per month,” said Karen Harrington, Catawba County Social Services director. “These are mostly children, the elderly and the disabled who receive benefits to supplement, rather than to cover, their monthly food costs.
“Although the federal shutdown has created an atmosphere of uncertainty among many residents who receive food assistance benefits, our community has a strong spirit of collaboration and has historically been known for serving people in need well,” Harrington added. “This includes several organizations, such as Hickory Soup Kitchen, The Corner Table, Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry, and Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry, who work year-round to improve food security in Catawba County. We also encourage residents to call the Catawba County United Way’s 211 directory to connect with other local resources that can help them through this time.”
Residents who have questions about applying for food assistance may call Catawba County Social Services at 828-695-5600 for more information.