North Carolina residents who struggle to afford their groceries may benefit from receiving food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in North Carolina. Overall, this program is designed to help low-income households afford nutritious groceries and keep families fed. It is designed to supplement the cost of grocery shopping by providing a monthly benefit in the form of an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card that can be used at grocery stores and certain farmers’ markets.
At the federal level, the SNAP program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). At the state level, SNAP assistance in North Carolina is administered by the Social Services Division of the state Department of Health and Human Services. This program is called Food and Nutrition Services in NC. The sections below cover the eligibility requirements, application steps and benefit amounts for food stamps. To learn even more about the food stamps program, download our free guide.
Learn About North Carolina Food Stamps Requirements
In general, low-income households with limited assets are able to meet the income requirements for SNAP eligibility in North Carolina. As a general rule, SNAP takes into consideration your total monthly income, total household assets and total monthly expenses, as well as the age, citizenship status and disability status (if applicable) of each of the members in your household.
In order to meet the SNAP income guidelines in NC, applicants’ household incomes cannot exceed the limit for their household size and category. The income guidelines are based on the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), and qualifying incomes typically do not exceed either 130 percent or 200 percent of the FPL.
For example, a three-person household must typically not earn more than $2,495 per month in gross income, which refers to income before taxes are taken out. However, if the household includes a senior or a person with disabilities, a family of three may be able to earn up to $3,167 per month in gross income and still remain eligible.
You may still meet the food stamp income guidelines if you have excess household or medical expenses if you live with a senior or a person with disabilities. The state will deduct certain expenses from your total income when calculating whether you qualify for benefits.
Along with the income requirements, applicants should also meet the SNAP eligibility requirements for citizenship or legal status in the U.S. For instance, all applicants must have or be eligible for a Social Security number (SSN). Thus, non-qualified immigrants and undocumented immigrants cannot receive benefits.
How to Apply for Food Stamps in North Carolina
North Carolina residents can apply for food stamps in person, by mail or online, depending on their preference. To apply by mail or in person, residents can print out and submit a paper application. However, the easiest method is to apply for food stamps online through the official North Carolina portal.
Regardless of how someone chooses to complete the NC food stamp application, the information requested will be the same. As such, applicants should expect to provide the following information in their application:
- The names, dates of birth and SSNs of all qualifying household members
- All income sources for all household members, including benefits like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), child support, alimony or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- All assets for all household members, including checking accounts, savings accounts, some trust funds and investments and all properties or vehicles beyond the primary household property and vehicle
- All household expenses, including rent or mortgage payments, utilities, child care, child support, dependent care or medical care for elderly or disabled household members
Applicants must also provide documents proving the household’s income history and payments when they apply for SNAP. Additionally, those who apply for SNAP must answer questions about drug and alcohol use, pregnancy and criminal records for all household members.
In some cases, applicants may be denied benefits based on a criminal record. In other cases, applicants may be eligible for additional benefits. For example, pregnant household members may be eligible for funding through the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.
Learn About SNAP Benefits in North Carolina
Once you are approved for SNAP benefits in North Carolina, you are issued an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card, which you must create a private PIN code for. EBT cards function like debit cards. Every month, the card is reloaded with your total benefits and can be used at retail stores and participating farmers’ markets. The PIN code protects you from theft and ensures that someone cannot make a purchase on the card without your permission.
You can only use your food stamp benefits on groceries that you can prepare at home. This includes fruits, vegetables, grains, bread, dairy products, meats, snacks, beverages and other grocery foods. However, you cannot use it for the following:
- Pet food
- Household supplies
- Paper goods
- Hot foods
- Foods ready to eat
Furthermore, you cannot sell your SNAP food benefits in exchange for cash. Doing so is considered fraud, which could result in your removal from the program. Instead, you must only use your benefits for qualified groceries.
In any case, keep in mind that it is up to you to budget your benefits in order for them to last throughout the month. If you require assistance with your PIN code or your EBT card, you may contact a helpline that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In addition to the SNAP benefits in North Carolina, you are also entitled to participate in the SNAP Education program, which aims to help you learn how to make healthy choices with food stamp benefits. The program teaches you how to make your benefits go farther without sacrificing nutrition, as well as the importance of physical exercise. Download our free guide to learn more about what benefits you may receive on SNAP.
Name: NC DHHS – Division of Social Services
Phone Number: (919) 527-6335
Mailing Address: 2001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-2000
Physical Address: Dorothea Dix Campus, McBryde Building, 820 S. Boylan Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27603
Director: Lisa Cauley
Last Updated: February 24, 2023