ALBANY, N.Y. (WWTI) — Additional federal funding will buoy food assistance programs for children in New York State. On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced about $2.2 billion in federal food assistance for children who were unable to access free school meals due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Governor’s Office, the funding will provide eligible students $132 in food benefit for each month they fully participated in remote learning and $82 in food benefits for each month they participated in hybrid learning during the 2020-2021 school year.

This funding will be administered by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance through the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program.

“For many families across the state, free school meals provide a critical stop-gap and the ongoing pandemic has only made it harder for those already grappling with food insecurity,” stated Governor Cuomo. “This funding will help school children throughout our state access critical food assistance at a time when so many families are trying to make ends meet.”

Food benefits will begin being issued to children enrolled to receive free school meals on Monday, June 14. Benefits will be distributed in two phases: One from June 14 through late July, and the second beginning in late July and extending through August. This will aim to cover the fall and spring semesters.

Eligible children who are in families that are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will see their benefits posted to that household’s regular EBT card. The households of all other eligible children will receive a letter informing them of their benefit availability and how to access them.

Children under five in a SNAP household will be eligible for P-EBT food benefits to replace meals missed due to the closure of childcare facilities during the pandemic. These benefits will cover closures since October 2020.

The Governor’s Office confirmed that families will not need to apply for the benefits.

These benefits can be used to purchase food at authorized retail food stores in the state. New Yorkers can also use these benefits to purchase groceries online from authorized retailers.