USDA estimates 21 million kids will get summer food benefits through new program in 2024

Washington: Nearly 21 million children in the U.S. and its territories are expected to receive food benefits this summer through a newly permanent federal program, the United States Department of Agriculture announced last week.

Thirty-five states, all five U.S. territories and four tribes opted into the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer program, or Summer EBT, which the government says is meant to supplement existing programs during the summer that have had a more limited reach. 

“No child in this country should go hungry,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in an interview with The Associated Press. “They certainly shouldn’t go hungry because they lose access to nutritious school meals during the summer months.”

Families with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches will be eligible for Summer EBT, which will cover about 70% of the eligible population in its first year.

In an October report, the USDA said an estimated 17 million households in the U.S.reported problems finding enough food in 2022. That was up from 13.5 million in 2021, when there was more pandemic-era federal food aid. 

How much do families get? 

Eligible families will receive $40 per month per child during the summer — a total of $120 per child. The money will be loaded on an EBT card, which can be used at stores that also take Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Which states will not participate? 

Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Wyoming chose not to participate this summer.

Image courtesy of MA

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