States and Tribes Partner with USDA to Kick Off New Summer EBT Program
Grocery benefit a game changer in the fight against hunger for 29 million school-aged kids
WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2023 [Updated] - The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service has started receiving official notices from states and tribal nations that intend to operate the new, permanent summer nutrition assistance program for children, known as Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer — one of many strategies the department is leveraging to tackle child hunger when schools are closed. California, Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia are among the first to confirm their plans to implement Summer EBT in 2024, the program’s inaugural year, and many more are expected to follow.
Through Summer EBT, states, territories, and certain tribal nations can provide grocery benefits to families with eligible school-aged children during the summer months. Once implemented nationwide, Summer EBT is expected to benefit more than 29 million children, reducing food insecurity and helping kids get the nutrition they need to grow, learn, and thrive.
“Summer EBT provides an unprecedented opportunity to reduce child hunger during the summer months,” said Cindy Long, administrator of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.“ FNS is thrilled to see trailblazing states and tribes step up and make early commitments to expanding summer nutrition benefits for children in their communities. We look forward to working with all states and eligible tribal nations on this important effort — helping ensure children across our nation get the nutrition they need year-round.”
Millions of children participate in USDA’s school breakfast and lunch programs during the school year. However, when schools are closed, kids lose access to these healthy meals and are at higher risk of food and nutrition insecurity. Reflecting a bipartisan effort to close the summer hunger gap, Congress passed legislation in late 2022 making Summer EBT the first new federal nutrition program in decades.
Summer EBT will support families with $40 each summer month per eligible child to buy food at grocery stores, farmers markets, or other authorized retailers, similar to how SNAP benefits are used. USDA tested Summer EBT as a demonstration project in select states and tribal nations over multiple years. Rigorous evaluations showed that providing these benefits decreased the number of kids with very low food security by about one-third and supported healthier diets.
This new program will work hand-in-hand with other USDA nutrition programs to connect every eligible child with nutritious food during the summer. In addition to Summer EBT, USDA summer nutrition programs include group meal service at central locations, such as schools, camps, and community centers, as well as the option to provide grab-n-go or home-delivered meals in many rural communities. Summer EBT is an additional benefit and does not replace these summer meal programs. Families are encouraged to participate in all summer nutrition programs available to them.
To offer Summer EBT benefits in 2024, states and tribal nations should submit their notice of intent by Jan. 1, 2024. USDA is committed to supporting states and tribal nations with resources, technical assistance, and more as they work to implement Summer EBT.
For More Information
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service works to end hunger and improve food and nutrition security through a suite of 16 nutrition assistance programs, such as the school breakfast and lunch programs, WIC and SNAP. Together, these programs serve 1 in 4 Americans over the course of a year, promoting consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable food essential to optimal health and well-being. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. FNS’s report, “Leveraging the White House Conference to Promote and Elevate Nutrition Security: The Role of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service,” highlights ways the agency will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy, released in conjunction with the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022. To learn more about FNS, visit www.fns.usda.gov and follow @USDANutrition.
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