COVID-19 Update: Food and Nutrition Services Expand for Eligible Households, Businesses Follow Social Distancing Measures

Posted April 22, 2020 at 5:24 pm     Category: Emergency ManagementEmergency NewsNews ReleasePublic HealthSocial Services

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – Changes to federal Food and Nutrition Services programs are increasing benefits for eligible households and helping families purchase food while maintaining physical distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Families with children who are eligible for free and reduced lunch at school will receive approximately $250 per child in Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program assistance. Families don’t need to apply for this program. Those who already have an EBT card will see assistance transferred on their card in installments of $125. Families who do not already have an EBT card will be mailed one in the coming weeks. Learn more about the P-EBT program on the NC Department of Health and Human Services website or call .

Additionally, individuals and families who receive Food and Nutrition Services and/or SNAP benefits (formerly known as Food Stamps) will soon be able to use their EBT cards for eligible purchases online from participating retailers, allowing individuals to participate in curbside pickup or free delivery options further protecting them from COVID-19. Delivery fees cannot be paid for with an EBT card. For more information, visit the US Department of Agriculture website. To apply for Food and Nutrition Services, visit

The New Hanover County Department of Health and Human Services, including the Department of Social Services, continues to serve residents with financial and social work assistance, but residents should call 910-798-3500 before arriving to the building to conduct as much business by phone or online as possible. Services over the phone are available Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesdays 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., with appointments and walk-in hours available 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Department of Social Services has also established an email address,, for customers to send documents, requests for applications and case inquiries for Economic Services programs including:

  • Food and Nutrition Services (formerly known as Food Stamps)
  • Medicaid, including Long Term Care services
  • Child Care assistance (subsidy for child care costs)
  • Work First Family Assistance (financial assistance for working families)
  • Crisis Intervention (financial assistance for utility and housing payments)

For social work services like Foster Care, Child Protective Services or Adult Protective Services, call 910-798-3500. To report abuse or neglect, call 910-798-3420.

COVID-19 in New Hanover County

As of April 22, 2020, there have been 72 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County, and of those there are 45 people who have recovered, 24 people who are still ill and experiencing symptoms and three deaths.

View demographic data on lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Hanover County at

Businesses Operate Using Governor’s Executive Order Social Distancing Guidelines

Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 131 requires retail establishments to limit the number of people inside facilities to 20 percent of the stated fire capacity or one person per every 1,000 square feet, provide visible social distancing markings, increase cleaning and sanitation and other measures that prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In addition to requirements of the order, recommendations and guidance are provided to businesses to further mitigate risk. Recommended policies include the use of face coverings, acrylic or plastic shields at cash registers, designating aisles as one-way to limit crowding, designating shopping times for those at risk of serious illness and offering hand sanitizer prominently at entry and exit points of the establishment.

“Many local businesses have already implemented recommended policies to protect employees and customers,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “I appreciate these efforts and encourage our residents to support local businesses if they can, while adhering to guidance to reduce risk, like using online services, purchasing gift cards and ordering take out or delivery.”

Slow the Spread

Steps that everyone can take to slow the spread of COVID-19 include:

  • Comply with the Governor’s Stay at Home Order and New Hanover County restrictions.
  • Wear Cloth Face Coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • Stay home unless you must travel for essential purposes. If you must leave your home, follow proper physical distancing protocols: don’t gather in groups of more than 10 and stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Stay home if you are sick, even if you are an essential worker. And cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched (like your phone, tablet, countertops and daily work surfaces).


As of 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, there have been 72 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County. For updates and resources related to the COVID-19 virus in New Hanover County, visit, call our Public Health Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800, and follow the county’s trusted social media pages: TwitterFacebook,  Instagram, and  Nextdoor.

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Communications and Outreach: 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 195 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-7461 • Fax 910-798-7277
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