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New EBT Program Launches to Help Families Feed Children This Summer

Elgin Nelson

This summer, millions of California families with children already receiving meal benefits will get extra money for groceries through a new program, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, called SUN Bucks, or Summer-EBT.

Designed to combat food insecurity during the summer, SUN Bucks will provide an additional $40 per month for June, July, and August, totaling $120 per child. Families must use these benefits within 122 days of being loaded onto their EBT cards, which will be distributed alphabetically from June to August.

“It’s heartening to see Congress’s bipartisan action to make sure no child goes hungry during the summer months,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small. “President Biden’s investment in high-quality, nutritious school meals creates healthier brighter futures for kids across America, and USDA’s SUN Programs give families more ways than ever to support their kids’ nutritional needs.”

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) announced that children are automatically enrolled in the program if they qualify for school meals through a school meal application or an Alternative Income Form, or if they receive CalFresh, CalWORKS, or Medi-Cal.

 Eligibility also extends to children in Head Start programs, those experiencing homelessness, in foster care, or from migrant families. CDSS estimates that around 5 million children will benefit from SUN Bucks based on data from schools and social services.

Each eligible child will receive an EBT card with a $120 value, distributed in the following phases: children with last names starting from A to D will receive their cards in mid-June, those with last names from E to L in July, and M to Z by August. Despite the staggered mailing schedule, all families will have 122 days to use the funds.

SUN Bucks are eligible for use to purchase food at most grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and online retailers like Amazon and Walmart. However, they cannot be used for hot foods, pet food, cleaning or household supplies, hygiene items, or medicine.

Created as a permanent federal initiative in 2022, SUN Bucks was joined by California in 2023. The program was developed following the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed in December 2022 and aims to provide continued support to families during the summer months when school meal programs are unavailable.

To access the summer EBT program application, please use the following link.

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