Saturday, August 8, 2020

Michigan families affected by school closings to receive food assistance

April 10, 2020
Food waits to be handed out to people in need during the MSU Food Bank on Oct. 17, 2018 at Olin Heath Center.
Food waits to be handed out to people in need during the MSU Food Bank on Oct. 17, 2018 at Olin Heath Center. —
Photo by CJ Weiss | The State News

Families with students enrolled in the Michigan Department of Education program who qualify for free or reduced-cost school lunches will be receiving food assistance benefits from the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program, a new federal program that provides funding to address food needs for those impacted financially by COVID-19.

Michigan is the first state to receive approval for this program that provides food to children affected by the school closings.

Families receiving Food Assistance Program benefits as well as those not currently enrolled in that program are included in the 895,000 students that will be receiving meals at over 2,000 locations and 700 mobile sites across Michigan, according to a press release.

Additional food assistance will be provided by The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, or MDHHS.

“Children should never go hungry. Yet because of COVID-19, it is a risk unlike at any time in generations,” MDHHS Director Robert Gordon said in the press release. “I am glad that Michigan will be the first state to deliver SNAP benefits to families that previously received free or reduced-price lunches, whether or not they were SNAP-eligible. In a time of terrible need, it will be a small, good thing for nearly a million Michigan children.”

To receive food assistance benefits, Electronic Benefits Transaction, or EBT, cards will be given to families not currently receiving it. Directions on how to set up and use an EBT card were provided by the MDHHS. Families already receiving food assistance benefits should expect to receive additional benefits within the next couple weeks to use at Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, retailers.

The card will be issued under the oldest student’s name, but will cover all students in the household. The amount of those benefits will be no less than what the family would have received with free or reduced-cost lunches during the regular school period. The student will have enough food benefits to cover March through June.

For families who do not receive food assistance, they should expect MDHHS notices within the next couple weeks, and EBT cards will arrive at the households by the first week of May.

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