About 80,000 Delaware children are eligible to receive $120 extra in federal food benefits this summer to replace free lunches at school.
Students who will get the benefit must come from families who are already qualified for the benefits, or meet income guidelines and qualify before summer.
The state’s cost for the program will be about $1.5 million to administer, according to Tim Mastro, deputy director of communications at the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will pay $120 for each child as part of the pilot program.
If the expected 80,000 children take advantage of the program, the total cost will be $9.6 million.
“Benefits for Summer EBT are 100% federally funded,” Mastro said. “Administrative costs for Summer EBT are covered 50% by federal funds and 50% by state funds.”
Children are automatically certified for Summer EBT if:
- The child is eligible for free or reduced price meals through an application with their school, or
- The child receives SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid.
These children will receive Summer EBT benefits automatically, and no other action is required by the family.
Families with children who do not qualify through a school meals application, SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid must complete a Summer EBT application to determine their eligibility for the program.
Delaware joins 43 other states in launching a Permanent Summer EBT Program this year, with more states expected to join in 2025.
The department of agriculture expects this year’s program to serve close to 21 million children, providing a total of nearly $2.5 billion in grocery benefits.
This is around 70% of the total population of children eligible for Summer EBT.
EBT means Electronic Benefit Transfer, and is a benefit delivery system that provides public assistance recipients with electronic access to their cash and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
SNAP benefits are also referred to as food stamps.
Through the new program, states will provide families with $120 per eligible child for the summer to buy food at grocery stores, farmers markets or other authorized retailers – similar to how SNAP benefits are used.
The funds are divided into $40 a month allotments for June, July and August.
If 80,000 Delaware children benefit from the $120, it will have a total cost of $9.6 million.
The department of agriculture cited several evaluations of a multi-year demonstration project that showed providing summer EBT reduced child hunger and improved diet quality.
The research also shows that summer grocery benefits decreased the number of children with very low food security by about one-third and supported healthier diets featuring more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
“No kid should have to spend their summer hungry, or without nutritious food,” said Torres Small, the U.S. agriculture deputy secretary. “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.”
Small said programs like this 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.
“Together we’re making progress in closing the summer hunger gap and ensuring children are nourished and healthy year-round,” he said.
Several American tribes and territories are also part of the pilot program, including the Cherokee Nation, the Chickasaw Nation, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the American Samoa, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Guam, the Osage Nation, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
To learn more about the program and benefit eligibility, click here.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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