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Summer Food for Children Demonstration FAQs

EO Guidance Document #
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Guidance Documents
On Dec. 23, 2022, Congress authorized Summer EBT as a permanent program. FNS is working with states and local partners to implement this new program. Visit our Summer EBT webpage to learn more.


What are the Summer Food for Children demonstrations?

The Summer Food for Children Demonstrations are a series of projects, authorized by Congress under the 2010 Agriculture Appropriations Act (PL 111-80), to develop and test methods of providing access to food for low-income children in urban and rural areas during the summer months when schools are not in regular session. The purpose of the projects, as defined in the law, is to "reduce or eliminate the food insecurity and hunger of such children, and improve their nutritional status." USDA is required to provide for an independent evaluation of these demonstration projects using rigorous methodologies that can produce scientifically valid information regarding which projects are effective in meeting these purposes.

The law made $85 million available to pay for the costs of the projects and evaluation, including participant benefits, administrative expenses, costs for outreach to potential participants and potential sponsoring organizations; and, soliciting, administering, monitoring and evaluating each demonstration project.

Why are these demonstrations needed?

USDA has made a commitment to end childhood hunger by 2015. A key challenge is the problem of food insecurity in summer months when school is out and free and reduced-price school meals are not available.

One of the most important tools that state and federal governments have to address this need is the Summer Food Service Program, which enriches the lives of millions of low-income children during the summer, both by making nutritious food available and by providing resources that support summer education and recreation programs. USDA has a long history of partnership with states, local community organizations, and other stakeholders to strengthen and expand participation in SFSP. We continue to pursue those efforts energetically.

At the same time, we recognize that the program does not reach all those who need food when school is out and there is an increased risk of childhood hunger in the summer. FNS is using the funding and authority provided by Congress to strengthen the existing summer program and to look for new approaches that can get food to children who are not easily reached by the current program.

What is the legislative authority for the Summer Food for Children demonstrations?

Section 749(g) of the 2010 Agriculture Appropriations Act directs USDA to carry out demonstration projects to develop and test methods of providing access to food for low-income children in urban and rural areas during the summer months when schools are not in regular session. A link to the statutory language is found here.

What are the demonstrations?

We have implemented two types of demonstrations – enhancements to the existing SFSP program and a new model of benefits, distributed through the SNAP and WIC EBT systems:

  • Enhanced SFSP (“eSFSP”) There are four types of enhancements to the existing SFSP program: incentives to operate for more of the summer, incentives to add activities at SFSP sites, take-home meals distributed in backpacks, and rural meal delivery.
  • Summer EBT for Children (SEBTC): We are testing new ways of delivering nutrition assistance benefits in the summer using the electronic benefit delivery systems built for SNAP and WIC to give low-income families with children more resources to use at food stores during the summer. The demonstrations have gone through a “Proof-of-Concept” year and a full demonstration year. This summer we will add new sites for an expanded demonstration.
How do the demonstrations impact the operations of the current Summer Food Service Program?
  • States selected to operate an enhanced SFSP project will oversee the implementation of the demonstrations and are expected to continue to operate and promote the regular SFSP in areas and institutions not participating in the demonstration.
  • States not selected to operate a demonstration project will continue to have the full support, encouragement, and cooperation of FNS to promote and expand SFSP operations to reach as many low-income children as possible.
How can I submit a proposal for consideration?

The application process is now closed. Participating states include:

Cherokee Nation
Chickasaw Nation
New York
Arkansas & Mississippi
(demonstration 2010-2011)

Send questions about the Summer Food for Children demonstrations to

Page updated: June 20, 2024

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.