The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service recently received new official communications from states and tribal nations, since a plan to run a new program all year long to help kids with food during the next summer. It’s called Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer, related to the national food stamps program. This is just one of the ways the agency is working to fight hunger in children when schools are not open.
Tribal nations and states such as Chickasaw Nation, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia are among the first to confirm their plans to implement the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Summer EBT in 2024, the program’s inaugural year, and many more are expected to follow.
Who Qualifies for the New Summer 2024 Food Stamps Program
During the summer months, the Summer EBT initiative aims to extend essential grocery benefits to families with eligible school-aged children across states, territories, and tribal nations. This strategic program seeks to address the nutritional needs of over 29 million children nationwide, mitigating food insecurity and fostering the optimal conditions for their growth, learning, and overall well-being.
Throughout the academic year, millions of children actively participate in the USDA’s school breakfast and lunch programs. However, the challenge arises when schools close for the summer, leading to a disruption in the provision of these nutritious meals. This hiatus places children at an increased risk of encountering food and nutrition insecurity during a crucial period of their development.
In a commendable display of bipartisan cooperation, Congress took decisive action in late 2022 to bridge this summer hunger gap. Enacting legislation, they ushered in the Summer EBT program as the first new federal nutrition initiative in decades. This concerted effort reflects a commitment to ensuring that children maintain access to vital nutritional support, even when traditional school-based programs are not in session.
How Much Money Will the Summer EBT Program Give to Each Beneficiary?
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. This will work exactly as the SNAP benefits program, with a list of permitted and prohibited items to be purchased.
The Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program underwent extensive testing by the USDA as a demonstration project across specific states and tribal nations spanning multiple years. Thorough assessments revealed that the provision of these benefits resulted in a significant reduction, by approximately one-third, in the population of children experiencing very low food security. Furthermore, the program contributed to the promotion of healthier dietary habits among the beneficiaries.
The program is set to start from January 2024, and the potential beneficiaries will start receiving notifications from January 1.