Michigan to operate Pandemic EBT program to keep children fed amid coronavirus pandemic

Program available to children eligible for free- and reduced-price lunch

WASHINGTON – Michigan is the first state approved to operate the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program amid the rapidly evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Thursday.

The Pandemic EBT program will provide assistance to families with children that are eligible for free or reduced-price meals amid the state’s school closures, officials said. The program is meant to offset the cost of meals that would have otherwise been consumed at school. The USDA reports that nearly 750,000 children in Michigan were eligible for free- and reduced-priced lunch for the 2019-2020 school year.

The new program also serves as a supplemental food purchasing benefit for current SNAP participants, officials say.

The USDA says the new program was authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Act (FFCRA) that was signed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

"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,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “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.”

Click here to read more about the USDA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.