As COVID-19 cases increase, many school districts have gone back and forth between in-person and online. For kids that are still learning from home, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is giving out $741 million federal dollars to families eligible for free and reduced lunch. Many families who don’t meet those requirements still received letters about the additional assistance.
“It’s just all-around a good idea,” said Leila Harns, an Okemos mother of four.
Letters detailing food assistance amounts for school children were sent out to families across the state.
“It’s going to help us we have depleted any of our stock ups, and any of our savings, [we have] extended our budgets to meet the new needs for the breakfasts and the lunches for the children. So, it will help stay in a at least ground zero position during the pandemic,” said Harns.
Harns is one of many families that will receive money in this second round of COVID-19 food assistance.
MDHSS and the Michigan Department of Education will send out Pandemic-EBT cards for children in public elementary through high schools.
Families will get about $120 each month for every eligible child that has no in-person classes, and $77 for a child with in-person and remote learning combined.
Leila says P-EBT makes it easier to stock up for the month, and limit exposure to the virus compared to going to the grocery store every week.
“We didn’t have the money to purchase food to stock up and stay in. We would have to continue to go out to the store every week to get the extra breakfast and lunches. By having the P-EBT card it did allow us to be able to get a month or more worth of food for breakfast and lunches,” she said.
MDHHS back paid families from September and will continue the monthly payments until June.
Local schools have offered free lunch pick ups as well, but Harns children have allergies and like many it’s hard for parents that work shifts during the pick up times.
“A lot of lower income and working parents are not able to go to the areas between 3 and 5 or between 2 and 6. The P-EBT card is definitely helpful for that because that way if their kids are home from school and they do have to go to some kind of school camp or something like that. They are going to be able to leave from work, pick up the food from the grocery store, and get home,” said Harns.
Harns says it also hurts the environment when the schools use plastics, and multiple cartons of milk to package each lunch, compared to using the P-EBT and buying one big box of cereal or one gallon of milk.
Families that did receive the letter are expected to get their card in 5 to 10 business days. If you already own a P-EBT card the money will automatically be loaded in a few days.