The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the award of $31.5 million in Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children (Summer EBT) Grants to explore ways to alleviate hunger among low-income children during the summer, including new projects in Texas and Tennessee. Rigorous evaluations of continuing projects have found that Summer EBT can significantly reduce very low food security among children, the most severe form of food insecurity, by one-third.
“Summer EBT can help close the summer ‘nutrition gap’ faced by low-income households, when schools are closed and their children no longer have access to healthy school meals,” said Yvette Jackson, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. “This is particularly true in areas that are difficult to serve through existing summer meals programs, such as rural locations or areas where transportation options are limited.”
During the academic year, free and reduced price school meals help ensure that nearly 22 million low-income children have consistent access to nutritious food through the National School Lunch Program. Only about one in six of those children currently participate in summer meals programs. “USDA has made significant efforts to reach these children through traditional summer meals programs and is testing the use of Summer EBT to help fill the gaps,” Jackson said.
For summer 2017, USDA is awarding Summer EBT grants to nine states and tribal nations that operated demonstration projects in 2016: Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, Virginia, and the Chickasaw and Cherokee nations. Seven of the nine grantees are expanding their projects to serve more low-income children in rural communities in 2017 by adding communities within their state or tribal nation and boosting outreach to eligible children.
USDA is also awarding grants to two new applicants to operate demonstrations in 2018. Tennessee and Texas will be the first states to launch new Summer EBT demonstration projects since 2012, allowing USDA and the states to test strategies for building Summer EBT infrastructure and engaging local communities.
Texas participated in Summer EBT in summers 2011-2013 and will be launching its 2018 demonstration in two new communities in central Texas: Elgin and Georgetown school districts. Tennessee will operate a Summer EBT demonstration for the first time in Greene, Hancock, and Hawkins Counties.
“Studies show that additional resources provided by Summer EBT enable families to eat significantly more fruits, vegetables and whole grains – key building blocks to better health,” Jackson said. “Based on these successes, it makes sense to continue exploring ways to maximize this proven resource and the grants announced today will help do that.”
Summer EBT provides low-income families with children with a monthly benefit on a debit-type card that can be used throughout the summer for food purchases at stores in their community. Summer EBT is a complement to traditional summer meals programs and has proven especially practical in areas with limited or no access to traditional summer meal programs.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that include the Summer Food Service Program, the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) that, working together, comprise America’s nutrition safety net. For more information, visit www.fns.usda.gov.