LANSING, Mich. (WJMN) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has announced that the state has gained federal approval for a third round of Pandemic-EBT benefits. The funds will provide benefits to families with children whose access to nutritious meals through their school was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state will over $38 million from the federal government, allowing families to pay for food at stores or online. MDHHS says around 90,000 children are eligible for Pandemic-EBT benefits this school year because they learned remotely for at least part of the school year.

Students who are in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 and qualify for free or reduced-price lunch at school are eligible for benefits if they attended an in-person school and in-person learning is or was not available for either a full or partial month.

Each child receives $7.10 for each day the school is virtual or the student is absent due to COVID. Pandemic-EBT works along with Michigan Department of Education (MDE) programs that have provided meals to students at mobile and stationary locations.

Benefits will be retroactive to September of 2021 and will be paid through June 2022. Payments will be made automatically, so families do not need to apply to receive the assistance. Households that already receive food assistance benefits will receive the Pandemic-EBT payments on their Bridge Cards. Families that do not already receive food assistance will receive Pandemic-EBT cards in the mail that they can use to purchase food.

Payments for benefits from September through December 2021 began last week. Benefits will be issued later in May for January and February, in June for March and April, and in July for May and June.

“I am proud of all that our team at MDHHS has done to provide easy access to food to our families during the pandemic,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “While we are in the recovery stage of the pandemic, children and families still have great needs due to COVID-19. We are here to address those needs.”

Pandemic-EBT cards were mailed this week to eligible families who do not already have Bridge Cards. MDHHS is working in partnership with the MDE to collect information from local school districts that the federal government requires for MDHHS to issue the benefits.

“This is critical support to families whose children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “The Pandemic-EBT funds are important for struggling families and supplement other meals made possible through hard-working local, state and federal food service staff. It takes a village.”