Michigan has won federal approval for a third round of food assistance, known as Pandemic-EBT benefits, for Michigan schoolchildren whose access to school meals has been reduced by COVID-19 during the current school year. Families of students can use the benefits to pay for food in stores or online.
The announcement came today from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The previous two rounds of pandemic-EBT benefits were for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years.
K-12 students are eligible for pandemic-EBT benefits if they are eligible for a free or reduced-cost school lunch and learn remotely for part of the school year. These students receive $7.10 for each day that school was virtual or students were absent due to COVID.
The MDHHS said about 90,000 children are eligible for pandemic-EBT benefits this year.
“The EBT-pandemic is a lifeline for families trying to find ways to feed their children through the economic upheaval caused by COVID-19,” said Joshua Rivera, director of policy at the Administration of the economic stability of the MDHHS.
“No child should have to worry, just because they learn a little differently, if they can eat,” Rivera said. “So we know that this program has been a lifeline for these families.”
The benefits are retroactive to September 2021 and will be paid until June of this year.
According to the MDHHS, payments began last week from September to December 2021. Benefits will be paid this month for January and February, in June for March and April, and in July for May and June. Payments will be added to the Bridge cards of families already receiving food aid. Families not yet receiving food aid will receive a Pandemic-EBT card in the mail
Rivera said the state health department will automatically issue the payments to eligible families, and families don’t need to apply to receive the benefits.
MDHHS spokesman Bob Wheaton said if families have questions about their payments, they can inquire with their child’s school or by emailing [email protected]
The Michigan Department of Education provided meals during the school year at mobile and fixed sites for students whose in-person learning was interrupted due to COVID.