Emergency benefits ending for almost a million North Carolina families

25 January 2023

(WGHP) — In just two months, almost a million North Carolina families could be left wondering where they’ll get their next meal.

Emergency allotments for COVID-19 in the Food and Nutrition Services program will end in March.

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Families will lose an average of $95 per month to buy groceries.

“There are sometimes where you feel…’is it going to be my baby eating, or is it going to be me eating?'” said one Guilford County mom.

She didn’t want to share her identity but did share what it’s like to be a mom, raising three kids, and relying on federal programs for food.

“Those benefits, they really do help…the extra benefits. It’s kind of like that pick me up just to make it to the next day when the benefits will drop,” she said.

Starting in March, she’ll go from getting $300 a month for food to $150.

FOX8 asked her if she’ll be able to survive on that amount of money.

“Yes with budgeting…realistically, no. It’s hard,” she said.

She tries food giveaways to make up for it, sometimes driving to multiple food pantries in one day.

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“Some food banks, they’re running out of food…because there are people that don’t get benefits that run to the food banks to get food. It’s hit or miss,” she said.

In December, leaders with Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina estimated 5,000 more people came to their more than 500 satellite pantries for food.

CEO Eric Aft tells FOX8 the struggle these families face keeps him up at night.

“When you couple that with the fact that on average, each family is paying about $72 more for food, that is a challenge for so many families,” Aft said.

They expect more people to need food with emergency funding ending, but they’re struggling to find it.

“With fewer federal commodities and a difficult food-sourcing environment, we just don’t have that,” Aft said.

To make up for it, they need people to donate not just food but money, so they can fill pantry shelves to meet the increased need.

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FOX8 reached out to the North Carolina Dpeartment of Health and Human Services to ask where families can turn for more resources. They suggested calling 211 or visiting www.nc211.org for more information on local resources.

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