The USDA's New Summer EBT Program Will Provide Groceries For 21 Million Children

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced via press release that beginning in the summer of 2024, a new grocery benefits program targeted at children will launch in 35 states, five U.S. territories, and four tribes. This program, known as the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (Summer EBT), will fill the food insecurity gaps some children may experience when school is not in session. The states, territories, and tribes that have signed on to the program so far are estimated to be providing meals to nearly 21 million children this summer.

The program works by providing families $120 per eligible child for the summer. This money can then be used to purchase food from grocery stores, farmers' markets, and other applicable retailers. As of now, it is estimated that the Summer EBT will provide relief to around 70% of children currently eligible for the program, with hopes that this number will continue to expand in the future. One of the secondary main goals of the Summer EBT program is to provide children with the opportunity to have access to a more balanced, healthy diet. Providing financial freedom with grocery money allows families to include more fruits and vegetables in their grocery hauls.

"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 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The Summer EBT is a permanent new aid program

The Summer EBT will become a permanent program with the opportunity for more states and tribes to sign on to it in the future. Since this is the first Summer EBT, there will be numerous chances for states and tribes to learn more about how the Summer EBT will work, witness it in action, and choose to implement it for the summer of 2025. Demonstrations have shown that Summer EBT reduced the number of children facing food insecurity by about one-third, and encouraged children to have healthier diets to support growing minds and bodies. This is part of the Biden-Harris Administration's White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health which aims to alleviate food insecurity.

The Summer EBT will become the third main offering from the USDA to help child hunger during the summer. Other aspects of the Summer Nutrition Program include summer meal sites, where families can pick up free meals, and some rural communities have to-go or home-delivered meals available as well.

"No kid should have to spend their summer hungry, or without nutritious food," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Torres Small. "Summer EBT is a giant step forward in meeting the needs of our nation's children and families throughout the year, and especially in the summer months."