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Foodlink, Anti-hunger Advocates Raise Awareness about Summer Nutrition Programs


New Summer EBT program provides $120 in food benefits per eligible child to help alleviate summer hunger; Summer Meals launches to provide meal options for kids


Starting this summer, local children will have additional nutrition support during the summer months with the launch of a new Summer EBT program, supplementing ongoing traditional Summer Meals programming in the area. 


The Summer EBT program provides eligible families with food assistance during the summer months when thousands of school-aged children locally lose access to free school meals. Families can receive $120 per eligible child on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card to use for groceries at SNAP-authorized retailers. 


Foodlink officials were joined by advocates from Hunger Solutions New York, Monroe County officials, and a local meal provider to announce the start of Rochester’s Summer Meals programs and the launch of Summer EBT. Foodlink, the City of Rochester and the Rochester City School District collaborate with other nonprofit partners to ensure children have dozens of locations throughout the city to access free meals during breakfast and lunch hours. Sites such as libraries, R-Centers and school buildings are open once or twice per day, Monday through Friday, for meal service. A full list can be found at SummerMealsROC.org. Families can participate in both summer meal programs and Summer EBT to supplement their food budgets. 


“The Summer EBT program provides much-needed support to families throughout the Rochester region through federal legislation that was long overdue,” said Julia Tedesco, President & CEO of Foodlink. “This new benefit, combined with our local Summer Meals program and our mobile meals initiative, provides numerous options for children to get the nourishment they need this summer.”


Foodlink operates a mobile summer meals program with support from Monroe County, ensuring that kids get access to meals if they are not enrolled in formal summer programming. Featured neighborhoods for this “ice cream truck” model of meal delivery include Upper Monroe, Lyell-Otis, Charlotte, Maplewood and the 19th Ward. The program begins July 1, and more information is available at FoodlinkNY.org/FindFood.


“No child should have to worry about where their next meal comes from. During the summer months, it’s crucial that we fill the meal gap left by the school year ending,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “With the return of the Summer EBT program, the Summer Meals initiative and the mobile summer meals program, we’re working to make sure no child in our community goes hungry. We are committed to providing nutritious meals that support the health and well-being of all our children, because it’s about more than food: it’s about providing stability and nurturing the potential of every child.”


Summer EBT was authorized in 2023 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The program draws on lessons learned from the Pandemic EBT program that launched during the height of the COVID pandemic in 2020 and recently sunset. 


Most families will automatically qualify for Summer EBT and receive benefits on existing Pandemic EBT cards or new Summer EBT cards being mailed out throughout the summer. Others will have to apply. NYS Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance plans to launch the application on July 1, with an application deadline of September 3 to receive benefits. Eligibility for Summer EBT food benefits is not limited by immigration status, and receiving Summer EBT will not impact a family’s “public charge” status.


Families are automatically eligible if:


* The child received SNAP benefits, Temporary Assistance or Medicaid during the 23-24 school year, OR

* The child qualified for free/reduced-price meals during the 2023-24 school year.


Families must apply if:

* The child is not automatically eligible based on the criteria above, but:

* The household meets the income requirements for free/reduced-price meals, AND

* The child attends a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program


Once benefits are issued, families have 122 days (approximately 4 months) to use the benefits before they expire. More details about the program are available by visiting: OTDA.ny.gov/SummerEBT


“Summer EBT and Summer Meals will make a significant difference for New York’s children and families, helping to fill the gap when kids lose access to school meals during the summer break,” said Cody Bloomfield, Summer Nutrition Specialist at Hunger Solutions New York.

For more information visit FoodlinkNY.org

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