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Michigan chosen for program to feed kids during pandemic

Pandemic EBT will assist families of children eligible for free or reduced-price meals during school closures.

April 14, 2020

2 Min Read
Child eating bowl of cereal and milk dripping off spoon.
PANDEMIC EBT: For the 2019-20 school year, Michigan had nearly 750,000 children eligible for free and reduced-priced lunch.RJW/ Getty Images

Michigan has been chosen as the first state to be approved to operate Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, a new program authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Act — signed by President Donald Trump — which provides assistance to families of children eligible for free or reduced-price meals who are dealing with school closures.

For the 2019-20 school year, Michigan had nearly 750,000 children eligible for free and reduced-priced lunch.

Michigan submitted a plan to the secretary of agriculture for providing these benefits to SNAP and non-SNAP households.

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) supplements current SNAP participants and complements previously announced flexibilities for child nutrition programs that:

  • Allow parents and guardians to pick up meals.

  • Temporarily waive meal times requirements to pick up multiple days’ worth of meals at once.

  • Allow meals be served in noncongregate settings to support social distancing. 

  • Waive the requirement that after-school meals and snacks served through certain programs be accompanied by educational activities.

  • Allow states to serve free meals to children in all areas, rather than only those in areas where at least half of the students receive free or reduced-price meals.

"During these unprecedented times in the United States, President Trump has authorized a whole of America approach to tackling the coronavirus, and by authorizing pandemic EBT in the state of Michigan, we are able to ensure the Americans who need food the most are able to get it,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “This is a challenging time for many people right now, and we are working every day to ensure all Americans have access to safe, affordable and nutritious food to feed themselves and their families.”

The announcement is the latest in a series of actions that USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has taken to uphold the USDA’s commitment to “Do Right and Feed Everyone” during this national emergency. Other actions include:

  • Launching a new coronavirus webpage to inform the public about USDA’s feeding programs.

  • Providing 1 million meals a week through the public-private partnership, Meals to You.

  • Increasing access to online purchasing with a new pilot program.

  • Debuting the “Meals for Kids” interactive site finder — to help families find meals.

  • Allowing states to issue emergency supplemental SNAP benefits to increase recipients’ purchasing power.

  • Collecting solutions to feeding children affected through [email protected].

  • Providing administrative flexibilities in the SNAP and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children to allow for social distancing.

These actions and more are part of USDA’s focus on service during the COVID-19 outbreak. To learn more about FNS’ response to COVID-19, visit fns.usda.gov/coronavirus.

Source: USDA, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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