$26.9 million in grant funds will be distributed among eight grantees to continue administering pilots of the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children (Summer EBT) programs, providing summertime nutrition assistance to children who receive free and reduced price meals during the school year. These grants will extend benefits to new rural areas, Tribal Nations, and areas of extreme need including Flint, Michigan. Summer EBT provides a monthly benefit on a debit-type card that can be used throughout the summer for food purchases at authorized stores. Summer EBT is a complement to traditional summer meals programs, which offer no cost summer meals at approved sites, and is especially valuable in areas with limited or no access to traditional summer meals programs.The Obama administration also shared its plan to include a provision in the president's 2017 budget, which would allocate $12 billion over 10 years to the Summer EBT program.
Summer EBT, which is currently operating as demonstration project, was first funded by Congress in 2010. Rigorous evaluations of these pilots found that Summer EBT can significantly reduce very low food security among children, the most severe form of food insecurity, by one-third. Studies also showed that these additional resources enabled families to eat more healthfully, eating significantly more fruits and vegetables and whole grains – key building blocks to better health. Based on these proven successes, the President's proposed plan would allow Summer EBT to reach nearly 20 million children once fully implemented.
Bill Ayres, Co-founder and Ambassador of WhyHunger, supports the program: "Some years ago as Executive Director of WhyHunger, I met with senators and USDA officials about this very idea - that is, to run a pilot program to feed hungry children during the summer when they do not receive school lunch and breakfast. It was really a simple idea. Additional funds are added to the family's SNAP Card each month when the children are not in school. Though it's many years since that first meeting when the idea was proposed, I'm so pleased to see that there are now bills in Congress to grow the program nationally and President Obama has put it in the budget for a major increase. WhyHunger supports the growth of this program and encourages people and organizations to promote much needed food for our country's poorest children."
This year's grantees include Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, and Oregon. The aim is to serve over 250,000 children total, nearly 90 percent more, or over 120,000 additional children, than in 2015. Read the rest of the press release here.