The families of 810,000 Michigan children whose access to affordable school meals has been affected by COVID-19 will soon be receiving monthly payments, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced Friday.
The extra support — totaling $741.6 million in federal dollars — comes after Michigan gained authorization for a second round of Pandemic-EBT benefits from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services.
Hundreds of thousands of Michigan families normally rely on free or reduced-price lunches at school to help feed their children.
“The last thing that families should have to worry about during a pandemic is feeding their children. I am happy that Michigan families will be able to count on this additional support to help them access nutritious meals during the ongoing pandemic,” Whitmer said in a statement, adding that she wants the state Legislature to pass her COVID recovery plan which contains even more food assistance dollars.
For each eligible child (in grades pre-K through 12) who attends a fully virtual school with no in-person classes, families will receive about $127.53 per month. For each eligible child attending a school with a mix of in-person and remote learning, families will receive about $77.06 per month.
The payments, which will be paid to families automatically either via Bridge Cards or new Pandemic-EBT cards, are expected to begin in late March. Benefits are retroactive to September and will be paid through June.
“Last school year, Michigan was the first state in the nation to gain approval of and distribute Pandemic-EBT benefits. New federal rules for approval of Round 2 funding for this school year delayed Michigan’s approval. President Joe Biden’s administration provided increased flexibility that allowed Michigan to be approved,” the DHHS release reads.