North Carolina

Assistance Programs, Local Agencies and Charities

Food  Housing  Cash Assistance  Bills  Health  Education  Employment



  • North Carolina Food and Nutrition Services (FNS)  – Monthly food stamp benefits to help low-income people and families buy the food they need for good health, Call: 866-719-0141
  • North Carolina Work First Program  – Through Work First North Carolina parents with dependent children can get cash assistance, short-term training, and other services that can help them become employed and self-sufficientCall: 919-527-6300
  • North Carolina Telephone Assistance Program (Lifeline) – Offers discounts on basic monthly service for qualified North Carolina telephone customers, Call: 919-527-6335
  • North Carolina State Telephone Assistance Program (Link-Up)  – Provides discounts of up to $100 on installation charges for telephone service to eligible North Carolina Native Americans, Call: 919-527-6335
  • North Carolina Medicaid  – A health insurance program that provides medical and health-related services to eligible North Carolina residents, Call: 800-662-7030
  • North Carolina Health Choice (NCHC) for Children  – Offers comprehensive health coverage for low-income children in North Carolina, Call: 800-662-7030
  • North Carolina Health Insurance Premium Payment (HIPP) Program  – Pays for eligible NC Medicaid members and their families to receive health insurance through their job or COBRA, Call: 855-696-2447
  • North Carolina Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)  – Healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health care referrals, Call: Local Agency
  • North Carolina National School Lunch Program (NSLP)  Provides low-cost or free lunches to school children, Call: 919-807-3506
  • North Carolina Special Milk Program  – Offers milk to children in schools, childcare institutions, and eligible camps, Call: 919-807-3506
  • North Carolina School Breakfast Program (SBP)  Provides low-cost or free meals to school children, Call: 919-807-3506
  • North Carolina Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)  – Provides free meals and snacks to help low-income children in the summer months, Call: 919-807-3506
  • North Carolina Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)  Provides healthy meals and snacks to children and adults receiving day care, Call: 919-707-5799
  • North Carolina Head Start  – Comprehensive child development programs serving low-income children and their familiesCall: 919-440-1147
  • North Carolina Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) Designed to help eligible North Carolina households pay their heating billsCall: 919-527-6300
  • North Carolina Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) – Helps eligible low-income North Carolinians save energy and reduce their utility bills, Call: 919-707-9198
  • North Carolina Housing Choice Voucher Program  – Helps eligible low-income households lease privately owned rental units from participating landlords, Call: Local PHA
  • North Carolina Public Housing  – Provides safe, decent, and affordable rental units for eligible low-income residents., Call: Local PHA

Homeowners Assistance and Housing Programs

North Carolina – Making Home Affordable options

Making Home Affordable is a federal program designed to cover different homeowners’ hardships and financial situations. Under the program there are various options that can help North Carolina homeowners in hardship stay in their homes. Depending on the situation North Carolina homeowners in hardship can apply to lower their monthly payments, lower the interest rate on their home loan or even get principal reduction in some cases.

There are foreclosure alternatives and temporarily help for unemployed homeowners as well.

Here are some of the most used options under Making Home Affordable Program:

HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) approved housing counselor can be reached at: 888-995-4673  (Hearing impaired: 877-304-9709 TTY) to help you understand your options, prepare your application, and work with your mortgage company.


Food Assistance Programs, Services, and Organizations in North Carolina


North Carolina Food and Nutrition Services (FNS)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the Food Stamps Program as it is known by the public, is a federal program that provides grants to the States for purpose of reducing the hunger and malnutrition in all eligible households across the nation. SNAP helps provide healthy food to qualifying low-income families with children, elderly or disabled in each State of the USA, including North Carolina. Learn more about SNAP.

It is important to know that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal entitlement program funded by U.S. Government grants. Any U.S. Citizen, even some legal alien residents will get free food assistance as long as they meet the SNAP eligibility guidelines. In other words, there is enough Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for every American that qualifies.

In North Carolina, the SNAP is known as North Carolina Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) and is administered by the Division of Social Services (DSS) under North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The Federal Government pays 100% of North Carolina SNAP Benefits with federal grants appropriated for SNAP. The SNAP federal grants also pay a share of the North Carolina SNAP administrative cost.

According to North Carolina Division of Social Services, “The purpose of Food and Nutrition Services is to end hunger and improve nutrition and health. It helps eligible low-income households buy the food they need for a nutritionally adequate diet.”


Who is Eligible for Food and Nutrition Services (Food Stamps) in North Carolina?

The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in North Carolina, like in other States, are based on limited income, limited liquid resources, household size, and other requirements, some of them specific to each State. Most eligibility rules are determined by regulations issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service.

The federal law allows States some flexibility when implementing SNAP on a State level. State agencies can adapt some of the food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of eligible, low‐income local population.

North Carolina Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) Program is designed for individuals and families with limited income resources, who compose a household, and purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption. People living with roommates, people who are temporary unemployed, or people who are homeless can also get food stamps if they meet specific eligibility guidelines.

For the purpose of the North Carolina Food and Nutrition Services, certain people must be included in on household account even if they purchase and prepare meals separately. Husbands and wives of any household member, their children under age 22 when living together, plus children younger than 18 who are dependents of an adult household member are all considered as a part of one household formation.

In North Carolina anyone with limited income and resources may apply for food stamps but, in general, to qualify for North Carolina FNS Benefits (Food Stamps), you must meet the following basic eligibility requirements:

  • North Carolina Resident – must be a U.S. Citizen or a legal resident with SNAP eligible non-citizen status;
  • Work Requirement – unless exempted, each able-bodied household member who is 16 to 60 year old must be registered to work, and accept a suitable employment offer;
  • Resource Limits – no asset limits if you meet SNAP categorical eligibility, all others must have countable household assets limited to $2,250 or less ($3,250 or less for households containing a member who is disabled or 60 years of age or older);
  • Income Limits –  Income limits eligibility depends on the household size and composition. Households with no elderly or disabled individuals must meet both standard gross (130% of FPL) and net income limits. Households with elderly or disabled individuals must meet only the net income limits (100% of FPL). Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits and other.

Some North Carolina residents may be automatically or so called categorically eligible for Food Stamps if they already participate in other means tested assistance programs. Getting any benefits funded by federal grants from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – Work First Family Assistance in NC, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can make the applicant for FNS benefits categorically eligible, thus bypassing the standard income eligibility and asset eligibility rules.

Under the federal SNAP regulations, States do have to assign a gross income limit of 200% of the federal poverty line (FPL) or less in order to use any federal grant funded benefit that can make Food Assistance applicants eligible. Please, contact your local DSS for more details on Food and Nutrition Services categorical eligibility.

See the table for Maximum Monthly Income (measured as percentage of federal poverty level – FPL) allowable for FNS Benefits Eligibility in State of North Carolina, as per household size:

Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016 USDA FNS SNAP Max Income
Household SizeGross Monthly Income
200 % of poverty level
Gross Monthly Income
130 % of poverty level
Net Monthly Income
100 % of poverty level
Each additional member+$694+$451+$347

Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards


Quick Eligibility Check

Use this Pre-Screening Tool to find out if you may be eligible to get North Carolina FNS Benefits (Food Stamps).

The screening allows interested in getting North Carolina food stamps to provide some basic information and find out if they are potentially eligible for benefits.

If you use this Pre-Screening Tool you will be notified immediately on the screen if you qualify after completing the questionnaire. This is a pre-screening information, and you still have to make an application at your local North Carolina DSS office.

Even if you are unsure if you would qualify you still may be eligible for FNS Benefits and you should still apply. Division of Social Services (DSS) is the agency in North Carolina that can make final determination regarding your Food and Nutrition Services application in this State and grant you benefits.


What are Maximum North Carolina Food and Nutrition Benefits (Food Stamps)?

If approved, the North Carolina FNS benefit amounts depend on the household size and the amount of the their net income. USDA has maximum SNAP benefit limits per month per household size. Check below what are the maximum food stamp assistance monetary amounts a household can get. The dollar amounts of the food stamp benefits are called allotments.

Oct. 1, 2015 - Sept. 30, 2016 USDA Max SNAP Allotments
Household SizeMaximum Food Assistance Monthly Allotment
Each additional member$146

Source: USDA, SNAP Maximum Allotments


How to Apply for Food and Nutrition Benefits (Food Stamps) in North Carolina?

In State of North Carolina, applicants for Food and Nutrition Services can call or visit the local D SS and ask for a FNS Benefits application package, download the Application for Food and Nutrition Services, or apply online.

If you are to file a paper application, download and print the Application for Food and Nutrition Services form offered by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

To apply with the paper form, start answering the questions on the application and filling in the required information. If you do not have all the information that is needed to complete the FNS application, provide as much as you can – but you must include your name, address, social security number, and your signature for DSS to accept it. Mail or turn in your FNS Application to one of the local County DSS offices.

Find a Local Department of Social Services in your area or call: 1-866-719-0141

You can also apply for FNS Benefits online by visiting ePass Public Portal of NC FAST.

Before determining your Food and Nutrition Benefits eligibility a social worker will have to process the application and interview you.

After your application is submitted you will be contacted to complete a FNS eligibility interview. At the interview, you may need to provide some supporting documents that would help DSS worker determine your eligibility.

Within 30 days of the interview, if eligible, you will receive a notice stating how much food assistance benefit and for how long your household is eligible for before a review of the case is due.

The FNS Benefit amount depends on the household size and its net income – that is all countable income minus all allowable deductions.

If NC DSS finds you eligible for FNS Benefits, you will be entitled to receive food stamps from the date your signed application is received.


North Carolina Food and Nutrition Benefits Approval, Rules, Proofs Required

In addition to filing an application in State of North Carolina, the process to determine your FNS eligibility includes an interview and information verification.

The North Carolina DHHS has a list eligibility requirements for each applicants may be required to provide acceptable form of documentation:

  • Identity;
  • Residency;
  • Citizenship/Alien Status;
  • Household Size/Composition;
  • Enumeration;
  • Resources;
  • Income;
  • Student Status;
  • Voluntary Quit;
  • Work Registration/ABAWD Status;
  • Disability;
  • Controlled Substance Felons, and
  • Previous Disqualifications (QC, Controlled Substance Felons, IPV’s, etc.)
  • Utility Expenses;
  • Mortgage or Rental Expenses;
  • Property Taxes;
  • Property Insurance;
  • Medical Expenses;
  • Child Care Expenses.

Additional information and proof may be required by your caseworker depending on your application and household situation. In case you are not able to provide all the information during the SNAP application interview, you may be given time to provide the required proof.

Applicants for FNS Benefits in North Carolina should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the DSS. When start getting food stamps benefits, households must report any changes of their situation in a set by the agency period of time in order to assure their participation in the North Carolina Food and Nutrition Services Program.

Under the simplified reporting option, households are required to report changes in income between certification and scheduled reporting periods when total countable income rises above 130% of the poverty level or when work hours change for able‐bodied adults without dependents.

Food and Nutrition Services regulations require all non‐exempt household members to comply with work requirements. Work requirements include registering for work, not voluntarily quitting a job, and accepting a suitable employment offer for all FNS benefit recipients age 16 through 59 if they are not exempt. As per federal SNAP guidelines, individuals who fail to comply with work requirements without good cause are ineligible for program benefits and disqualified from food assistance for certain periods of time, depending on how many prior instances of non‐compliance there have been.

The law limits the SNAP benefits to 3 months in a 3-year period for all able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 through 49 without dependents, who are not working or participating in a work program for at least 20 hours each week.

As part of the SNAP federal grant assistance requirements, each State has to offer employment and training (E&T) program to its SNAP/FNS benefits recipients. Participants in such programs, where available, can get adult education, vocational training, job skills training for specific jobs, and work experience via short-term unpaid work assignments. The main goal of the work requirement is to help the food assistance benefits recipients get jobs, reduce or eliminate their dependency on the government benefits.

Call  1-866-719-0141 if you want to find more about North Carolina Employment and Training Program offered to FNS recipients.


Approved! When and How Do I Get the Food and Nutrition Benefits?

North Carolina Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides the benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the North Carolina SNAP benefits are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through an North Carolina EBT card.  The North Carolina SNAP Benefits are deposited into the recipients accounts each month following the Benefit Issuance Schedule.

Benefits are made available from the 3rd to the 21th of every month, based on the last digit of the primary cardholder’s SSN:

SSN ends in 1 = benefits available on the 3rd of the month
SSN ends in 2 = benefits available on the 5th of the month
SSN ends in 3 = benefits available on the 7th of the month
SSN ends in 4 = benefits available on the 9th of the month
SSN ends in 5 = benefits available on the 11th of the month
SSN ends in 6 = benefits available on the 13th of the month
SSN ends in 7 = benefits available on the 15th of the month
SSN ends in 8 = benefits available on the 17th of the month
SSN ends in 9 = benefits available on the 19th of the month
SSN ends in 0 = benefits available on the 21st of the month

If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or EBT Card call North Carolina EBT Customer Service: 888-622-7328


How and Where to Use the Food and Nutrition Benefits?

North Carolina SNAP benefits are provided via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the North Carolina SNAP are transferred into the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through North Carolina EBT Card. Households and individuals can use their EBT cards and spend the benefits like cash at any North Carolina grocery stores and farmers’ markets that are authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to accept SNAP (food stamp) benefits.

Check this list of North Carolina FNS participating stores that are authorized to take EBT cards for purchasing of SNAP eligible food items. Eligible food items are any food to be eaten at home by people, including baby food, non-alcoholic beverages, and seasonings. Seeds and plants to grow food for your own family’s consumption are also allowed to be purchased with food stamp benefits. You cannot buy non-grocery items with food stamp benefits, such as cleaning products, pet food, paper products, alcohol, or tobacco.


I Need Food Assistance Now. It is an Emergency!

Some households may get Expedited Services – that is getting Food Stamp Benefits within 7 calendar days if your household has less than $150 in monthly gross income and liquid resources (cash, checking or savings accounts) of $100 or less; or your rent/mortgage and utilities are more than your household’s combined monthly income and liquid resources; or a member of your household is a migrant or seasonal farm worker. In order to get expedite assistance, if you qualify for it, provide all required information and proof as soon as possible. Call 1-866-719-0141 for more information on North Carolina Food and Nutrition Services Program.