Families with kids on free and reduced lunch might be getting a little help putting food on the table.
LANSING, Mich.—Losing school lunches has impacted struggling Michigan families. Schools nationwide have been trying to fill this gap, but new help from Lansing is on the way.
“The last thing that families should have to worry about during a pandemic is feeding their children,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “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. That’s why it’s so important that the legislature passes the COVID recovery plan I put forward that provides an additional $2.1 billion in food assistance as well as the much-needed support for vaccine distribution, small businesses, and getting our kids back in the classroom safely.”
But for some kids who aren’t in the classroom, a bit of extra assistance is coming. That help is in the form of a targeted expansion of pandemic food assistance through the Pandemic-specific Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program.
Michigan was the first state to enroll in P-EBT when it launched, but new federal rules for the current school year delayed Michigan’s enrollment in the second round of P-EBT support for Michigan families.
“Throughout the pandemic, MDHHS (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services) has been committed to providing easy access to food to families who have been impacted by the pandemic,” MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said in a statement. “Approval of the second round of Pandemic-EBT payments is the latest example of how we can work with our federal partners to ease the burden on families who are in need.”
Families of students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade that are enrolled in free or reduced lunch programs are eligible if their school is not in-person. Both students in fully-virtual and hybrid systems are able to qualify their family for added benefits.
How Much is Coming?
For each student in a fully-virtual learning environment, a family gets $127.53 per month. For each student in a hybrid learning environment, a family gets $77.06 per month. And that assistance is retroactive to the beginning of the school year in September.
That means for an eligible family with two kids in Kalamazoo, where learning has been virtual this year, $1,530.36 will either be added to their existing Bridge Card balance, or will be available on a P-EBT card mailed to the family. And the enhanced support will continue through the end of the school year, or until in-person instruction resumes.
When Is it Coming?
While no specific date has been given, payments are expected to begin in late March.
How do Eligible Families Apply?
They don’t. Assuming a family is enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program offered by the state, they are automatically enrolled in this extra P-EBT assistance program.