Advance Notice: Briefs

810K children attending school virtually will start receiving food assistance

By: - March 17, 2021 2:38 pm

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Around 810,000 Michigan children and their families have now begun to receive automatic food assistance from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the state announced this week.

The $741.6 million total in assistance benefits is aimed toward Michigan families that normally rely on free or reduced-price lunches at school to help feed their children, but can no longer do so due to at-home learning during COVID-19.

DHHS is automatically issuing the benefits now through the end of the month, with monthly payments to continue through June. Benefits are retroactive to September.

This second round of Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) benefits for Michigan was approved earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services. Last school year, Michigan was the first state in the nation to gain approval of and distribute its first round of Pandemic-EBT benefits.

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“Michigan has been a national leader in making sure families can put food on the table during COVID and this Pandemic-EBT will continue to ensure that no child in our state goes hungry during the pandemic,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement.

“Students are steadily returning to in-person learning because of the progress we’ve made combatting COVID-19, but kids who don’t go to school five days a week have a harder time accessing the free and reduced-price meals available to them at school. Pandemic-EBT closes this gap, giving our children another option for accessing nutritious food.”

Families receiving the dollars can use them to pay for food at stores or online. Families can find a list of retailers here, and can also use their benefits online to purchase food from Amazon, Walmart or Aldi.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).