In this Oct. 29, 2018, file photo, kids eat lunch at an elementary school in Paducah, Kentucky. Credit: Ellen O'Nan / The Paducah Sun via AP

About $17 million in federal food assistance has been distributed to families of 70,000 Maine children since last summer.

The funds, as part of Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program, were distributed by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, according to Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew.

“Ensuring that all Maine children receive the nutrition they need to learn and thrive is crucial, especially given the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lambrew said. “The federally funded P-EBT benefit will help eligible families throughout Maine afford healthy food.”

The benefit was passed as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020, which provided additional food for children who are eligible for free or reduced school lunch but could not access the school programs during the pandemic.

Matt Berg

Matt is a senior at UMass Amherst, studying journalism and history. Before joining the Bangor Daily News, he was the managing editor of his student newspaper and interned at the Boston Globe.