Changes to WIC and FNS benefits following termination of COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Changes to WIC and FNS benefits following termination of COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
Published: Jul. 6, 2023 at 11:03 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced changes to WIC and Food and Nutrition Services benefits that follow the termination of the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, which occurred on May 11.

“More than 260,000 North Carolinians are currently enrolled in WIC, and about 1.6 million North Carolinians currently receive FNS benefits. 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 NCDHHS release states.


Beginning Tuesday, Aug. 1, substitutions that had previously been available due to supply chain disruptions will no longer be allowed.

“During the PHE, due to supply chain disruptions, some restrictions on the types of products were loosened — particularly types of milk and yogurt and the size of some whole wheat and whole grain bread,” the release explains. “... Families can access their WIC shopping list and/or the BNFT® app to identify which food benefits are on their eWIC card. A full list of approved brand, size and form of foods that can be purchased with WIC can be found on the NC WIC Program Shopping Guide; individual products can also be scanned at the store using the BNFT® app to check for eligibility.”

For more information on the WIC program, please visit the NCDHHS website.


While the federal public health emergency was in effect, the recertification period for some households was extended from six to 12 months. Following the end of the PHE, these extensions have ended and most households will now need to recertify every six months.

“FNS beneficiaries will receive their recertifications in the mail, and it will indicate the date by which they need to submit the recertification to their local Department of Social Services,” NCDHHS states in its release.

During the PHE, repayments were suspended for households that received FNS overpayments.

“While repayments were suspended during the PHE, these overpayments are now to be repaid by the beneficiaries through a repayment plan with their local DSS. FNS beneficiaries will be notified if there are new overpayments that must be repaid and will receive instructions about how to make payment arrangements.”

Additionally, the conclusion of the PHE affects the benefits provided to the following three groups:

College students

College students who had completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid with an estimated family contribution of $0 were able to receive FNS benefits while the PHE was in effect.

“That exemption is no longer available. The change will be reflected upon the students’ benefit recertification,” NCDHHS explains.

Able-bodied adults without dependents

Now that the PHE has ended, the ABAWD time limit is in effect again. Those who fall into this category can receive FNS benefits for only three months in three years unless certain extra-work requirements or exemptions are met.

“An ABAWD is a FNS applicant or recipient who is between the ages of 18-49, physically and mentally capable of employment and not responsible for or living in a household with a minor child,” states the release.

Individuals with class H or I felony convictions

“This category relates to those individuals with felony convictions for controlled substances. During the PHE, individuals with class H or I felony convictions were not required to complete a substance abuse assessment to be eligible for FNS,” the announcement states.

Following the conclusion of the PHE, the assessments are now required again. Those who fall into this category must complete the assessment at the application or their next recertification.

More information on the FNS program can be found here. Those interested in applying online can do so here.