Food & Nutrition Services
Food and Nutrition Services
The Food and Nutrition Services Program is designed to promote the general welfare and to safeguard the health and well-being of the nation's population by raising the levels of nutrition among low-income households.
Anyone may apply for Food and Nutrition Services. To apply for benefits and receive final determination of eligibility, you must complete an application and be interviewed by a Food and Nutrition Services caseworker.
Applications for Food and Nutrition Services are taken Monday through Friday from 8am-5pm at Catawba County Social Services (address and map located at left). Eligibility criteria will be discussed during the interview process.
Applications can be submitted online through the North Carolina ePASS Portal. https://epass.nc.gov/CitizenPortal/application.do.
You may also contact Social Services at 828-695-5600 to request an application to be mailed to you. The application can be returned in person at the address above, mailed to Catawba County Social Services at PO Box 669, Newton NC 28658, or faxed to 828-695-5700.
Although not required to complete the interview process, the items below may be needed. If you are not able to bring these items to the interview, you may provide them later if they are needed:
- Identification such as valid driver's license or ID card
- Social Security Cards for all members of household for whom you are applying
- Verification of all income for members of household included
- Verification of Rent or Mortgage Expenses
- Proof of medical expenses for household members receiving Social Security Disability or age 60 and older
Additional information may be needed and will be discussed during the interview.
The two main areas considered to determine eligibility are household size and household income/resources. Once the caseworker has determined that the household meets these eligibility factors, the shelter and utility expenses will be considered. Other deductions that may be allowed are childcare expenses, legally ordered child support payments and medical deductions.
Are you eligible?
In an effort to increase service delivery and access to our programs, Social Services is pleased to offer this screening tool. By completing this questionnaire, you understand that it provides only a preliminary screening and does not guarantee actual eligibility for assistance. To apply for benefits and receive final determination, you must complete an application and be interviewed by a Food and Nutrition Services caseworker.
Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards are issued to eligible households. Once a household has been determined eligible, they will receive an EBT card through the mail. The card then needs to be activated by calling 1-888-622-7328 and selecting a four-digit pin number. The household may then use the card to purchase eligible foods at any authorized grocery store. The card should be used by the person named on the card only. If an additional card is needed for another adult household member, this should be discussed with the caseworker.
Once a purchase has been made, the amount of the purchase is automatically deducted from the account and the remaining balance is shown on the bottom of the receipt. Monthly benefits are added to the account on the same day each month. Unused benefits will remain on the account for one year.
Recipients who are physically unable to shop for themselves can name someone they trust as an authorized representative. The representative will get an EBT card that has full access to the recipient's account and will be able to use this card to shop for them. To designate an authorized representative, discuss with a caseworker.
Households CAN use food assistance benefits to buy:
- Foods for the household to eat, such as:
- breads and cereals
- fruits and vegetables
- meats, fish and poultry; and
- dairy products
- Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat
Households CANNOT use food stamp benefits to buy:
- Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
- Any nonfood items, such as:
- pet foods;
- soaps, paper products; and
- household supplies
- Vitamins and medicines
- Food that will be eaten in the store
- Hot foods
Extra Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) Benefits for COVID-19 Will End in February 28, 2023
Why are your benefits decreasing? FNS benefits have been temporarily increased because of the COVID-19 public health emergency (“emergency allotments”). This means you have been getting more benefits on your EBT card each month than you normally would to help meet emergency needs during the pandemic. The federal government will be ending FNS emergency allotments, with February 2023 being the final month for emergency allotments. As a result, your benefits will go back to pre-pandemic, regular monthly benefit amounts starting March 2023. Neither the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services nor your local department of social services has control over this change. The reduction of benefits related to the emergency allotment ending is not subject to fair hearings.
Resources for additional food assistance:
- North Carolina State Nutrition Action Coalition: www.ncdhhs.gov/foodresources
- If you have children under 5 or are pregnant/breastfeeding, you may be eligible for WIC. Learn more about WIC (https://www.ncdhhs.gov/ncwic) and complete a WIC referral online (https://www.ncdhhs.gov/ncwicreferral)
- The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans by providing them with emergency food assistance at not cost (https://www.fns.usda.gov/tefap/emergency-food-assistance-program)
- Visit https://nc211.org/ or dial 211 to be connected to community resources
FNS recipients can check their FNS/emergency allotment balance and transaction history three ways:
- Visit website www.ebtedge.com
- Download and use the EBT Edge mobile app (Google Play or Apple Store)
- Contact the North Carolina EBT Call Center at 1-888-622-7328 and follow the prompts
Card Skimming and Cloning
Card skimming is an unlawful act of stealing FNS benefits, which is typically accomplished by attaching a device to point of sale machine (POS)/personal identification number (PIN) pad to steal card numbers and other information from credit, debit and EBT cards. The card skimmers look like a normal part of a POS machine/PIN pad. These devices are easily placed and can be attached to POS machines/PIN pads in less than one minute. Card cloning is the copying of stolen EBT card information to new card.
The skimmed EBT card numbers are used to steal benefits from FNS recipients and can be cloned onto other cards. For households that rely on FNS or Work First benefits to meet their needs, losing benefits can have a devastating impact.
USDA and NCDHHS encourages county DSS agencies to encourage FNS and Work First participants to take actions that may prevent card skimming such as:
- Check EBT accounts regularly for unauthorized charges
- Check card reading machines in stores to make sure there is nothing suspicious overlayed or attached to the card swiper