Changes are coming to two food and nutrition programs due to the end of the federal public health emergency

Adjustments are coming to 2 meals and diet applications because of the finish of the federal public well being emergency

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Changes are coming to two food and nutrition programs that affect millions of North Carolina residents.

The state health department is warning those who qualify for Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to be aware of new changes, which are happening because the COVID-19 Federal Public Health Emergency is over.

“Beneficiaries in the WIC and FNS programs should take action to keep their contact information up to date with these programs and be on the lookout for official mail, emails or texts from the programs,” The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said in a media release.

According to NCDHHS, more than 260,000 people in North Carolina are enrolled in WIC and about 1.6 million are receiving FNS benefits.

The federal public health emergency guidelines allowed certain flexibilities and exceptions, which will be phased out in the next few weeks and months. Here’s what changes are coming and who will be impacted:

Changes coming to WIC benefits

Restrictions on eligible items: During the public health emergency, some restrictions on types of qualifying WIC products were loosened because of supply chain disruptions, according to NCDHHS. After Aug. 1, substitutions will no longer be allowed.

Approved brands, sizes and forms of foods that can be purchased with WIC can be found on the NC WIC Program Shopping Guide. You can also scan products in-person using the BNFT app to see if benefits can be used for purchases.

Changes coming to FNS benefits

Recertifications: During the public health emergency, FNS certification periods were able to be extended from recertification every six months to every 12 months for certain households. Now, most will need to recertify every six months to continue receiving benefits.

According to NCDHHS, FNS beneficiaries will receive recertifications in the mail with information about when those need to be submitted to their local Department of Social Services.

Suspensions of claims collections: Repayments were suspended during the public health emergency, and any overpayments must be repaid. Beneficiaries will be notified if there are new overpayments.

College student eligibility: During a public health emergency, some college students were made eligible for FNS. That exemption is no longer available.

Able-bodied adult without dependents: Now that the public health emergency is over, the time limit on benefits goes back into effect for able-bodied adults without dependents. Qualifying applicants or recipients can only get benefits for three months in a three-year period unless certain extra work requirements or exemptions are met.

Those with class H or I felony convictions: Now that the public health emergency is over, those with class H or I felony convictions are now required to complete a substance abuse assessment to be eligible for FNS.

This story was initially printed July 13, 2023, 11:27 AM.

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Chyna Blackmon

Chyna Blackmon is a service journalism reporter for The Charlotte Observer. A local of the Carolinas, she grew up in Columbia, SC, and graduated from Queens College of Charlotte. She’s additionally labored in native tv information in Charlotte, NC, and Richmond, VA.
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