Connecting eligible veterans to nutrition benefits

HEALTH

Compiled by Michelle Cassell
Managing Editor 

Approximately 14,000 North Carolina veterans and their families are likely eligible for the state’s newly expanded Medicaid benefits. To ensure North Carolina veterans receive the support they are eligible for, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will help veterans who are newly eligible for Medicaid apply to Food and Nutrition Services (also known as food stamps or SNAP). This benefit program helps pay for groceries.

NCDHHS is working to identify veterans who could benefit from this program to ensure enrollees are accessing all the programs for which they are eligible. With its partner, Benefits Data Trust, NCDHHS will reach out this week by mail and text message to offer FNS application assistance to veterans in North Carolina who are enrolled in Medicaid but not yet enrolled in FNS.

“North Carolina’s military veterans have selflessly served their country, and NCDHHS is committed to ensuring they have access to the basic necessity of food,” said NCDHHS Deputy Secretary for Opportunity and Well-Being Susan Osborne. FNS benefits are a key resource that can improve health and well-being, and our veterans deserve this care from their communities and states.”

NCDHHS will send letters to North Carolina veterans who are likely eligible for but have yet to enroll in FNS, offering application assistance through the North Carolina Benefits Center. There is no cost to North Carolina veterans who call and apply for FNS benefits through the North Carolina Benefits Center. Veterans who are enrolled in Medicaid but not in FNS will receive a letter from NCDHHS that will provide a phone number to call to apply.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, participation in North Carolina’s Food and Nutrition Services, or FNS, is estimated to be lower among eligible veterans than among other households nationally. The U.S. Department of Agriculture administers FNS, designates veterans as a priority for state outreach efforts nationwide, and urges states to form partnerships to ensure eligible veterans are aware of the program and how to apply.  

A 2023 report showed that nationwide, two groups of food-insecure veterans are particularly less likely to participate in FNS than their non-veteran peers: older veterans and those who are not in the workforce because of a disability.

“Supporting North Carolina’s veterans and connecting them to services is at the heart of NC DMVA’s mission,” said Lt. Gen. Walter E. Gaskin, USMC (Ret.), Secretary of the NC Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “Assisting eligible veterans and their families to have access to FNS benefits and healthy food is a strong foundation for their health and success.”

For more information about the FNS program, visit www.ncdhhs.gov/fns. To apply for benefits online, visit epass.nc.gov. People can also apply in person at your local Department of Social Services or by mail by filling out the paper application and mailing to the local DSS. For more information on FNS benefits, call (919) 527-5600.


Michelle Cassell is a seasoned reporter who has covered everything from crime to hurricanes and local politics to human interest over the course of 35 years. As managing editor, she hopes to encourage writers of a wide range of backgrounds and interests in TLR’s coverage of Southern Orange County news. 

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