Feds extend summer food assistance to low-income children

Families who qualify for Pandemic EBT will now receive up to $381 this summer. - NICK SHERMAN/FLICKR
Nick Sherman/Flickr
Families who qualify for Pandemic EBT will now receive up to $381 this summer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is throwing a lifeline to students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, by extending the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program, known as PEBT, through the end of the summer. This means families will continue to get up to $127 a month on their benefit card to buy groceries.

Bobby Dorigo Jones, director of public policy at the nonprofit Michigan's Children, said at least one in 10 students in Michigan still faces food insecurity each week.

"It's a strain on young people's ability to grow when nutrition is hard to find," he said. "This will be one less nightmare for a lot of families in Michigan."

Families already in the program and those who are eligible for SNAP or food stamps will receive the benefits automatically on their card. People can apply for benefits on the MI Bridges website. At some lower-income schools, the entire student body is eligible for P-EBT; check with your school district.

Dorigo Jones said the biggest challenge is making sure all those who face hunger over the summer actually access the benefits.

"The students who are most likely to continue to face that are disconnected from school - experiencing homelessness, foster care or migrant status," he said, "and the schools and our state need to invest in programs and services that can connect them."

He said the P-EBT cards especially are helpful to families when parents work during the day, or who lack the transportation to get the grab-and-go meals that schools are handing out.

Answers to frequently asked questions are online here.

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