The Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that 35 states, all five U.S. territories, and four Indigenous Tribes plan to be the first to launch the inaugural, permanent summer grocery benefits program for children, known as Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) in summer 2024.
According to USDA, states will provide families with $120 per eligible child through the Summer EBT program to buy food at grocery stores, farmers markets or other authorized retailers – similar to how SNAP benefits are used. Participating Tribes will provide a benefit of the same amount that can be used to buy food at WIC-authorized retailers.
USDA says it estimates that the states, U.S. territories, and Tribes currently committed to launching the Summer EBT program in summer 2024 will serve close to 21 million children. This amounts to providing a total of nearly $2.5 billion in grocery benefits and reflects approximately 70% of the total population of children eligible for Summer EBT. USDA notes that it expects additional states and Tribes will provide Summer EBT in 2025.
“Summer grocery benefits are becoming a reality for many communities across the nation and for tens of millions of children who will receive the nutrition they need to grow, learn, and thrive,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We applaud all the leaders and partners who are stepping up to make the program’s inaugural year a success. Together we’re making progress in closing the summer hunger gap and ensuring children are nourished and healthy year-round.”
The USDA reports that its research and evaluation of a multi-year demonstration project showed summer grocery benefits decreased the number of kids with very low food security by about one-third and supported healthier diets featuring more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
2024 is the inaugural year of the Summer EBT program; this summer’s non-participating states and Tribes will have future opportunities to opt-in, says USDA, which also states that its goal is for Summer EBT to be available nationwide as soon as possible.
Additional information about the program is available at http://tinyurl.com/zt6zx4rh.