Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been urged by more than 80 advocacy groups to request the federal food aid to feed 2.1 million children in low-income homes in the state.

The governor is yet to comment on the aid’s status. The state of Florida has been eligible to apply for the aid of up to $820 million for four months now but it is not yet clear if state officials are seeking the money.

The funds have no mandates attached to them and also do not require matching funds. At least 42 other states, including those led by Republican governors, have tapped into the extra money, according to a report by Tampa Bay Times.

The money that comes through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program is intended to alleviate a problem the pandemic caused last year: How do kids get their free and reduced lunches when schools are closed?

The federal government came up with a solution: deposit money onto electronic cards for parents to buy food for their children.

Christina Pusha, a spokesperson for the Governor, said in a statement that as Florida schools have resumed “normal operations” so now every student can “receive high-quality nutrition directly from our schools”, Tampa Bay Times reported.

Pushaw stated that the purpose of the said program was to provide aid for children who “temporarily lost access to free and reduced-price school meals due to pandemic-related closures and virtual learning.”

Florida had participated in the program last year but held out when it was renewed again this year.

”Schools are not remote in Florida, and children receive nutrition directly from schools,” she said.

According to the federal guidance that came out in April, the extra $6.82 per day is available to “all children who were eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals during the current school year.”

So, the federal money is available for the kids regardless of whether they have returned to in-person classes.