January 25, 2024

The permanent, nationwide Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (Summer EBT) Program is set to begin in summer 2024. Thirty-five states, all five territories, and four Inter-Tribal Organizations (ITOs) have committed to operating the program, providing families with a $120 grocery benefit for each child in the household eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.

In total, Summer EBT will provide benefits to an estimated 21 million children, giving participating states, territories, and ITOs an important opportunity to reduce childhood hunger during the summer so children are able to start the new school year well-nourished and ready to learn.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services (USDA FNS) has issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) that details how states must implement and operate the program. Much of the language in this rule reflects what USDA FNS has released in prior guidance documents, including their latest Questions and Answers document. Because it is an interim final rule, there is an opportunity to submit comments on the rule, which are due on or before April 29, 2024. The following are key pieces to note about the IFR:

  • Requires states to issue Summer EBT benefits no more than 14 days and no less than seven days before the start of the summer operational period.
  • Requires states to include a customer service plan in their Plan for Operation and Management.
  • Sets performance criteria to support program access and integrity, and those not meeting the benchmarks must submit a continuous improvement plan and will receive technical assistance from USDA to improve their performance.
  • Requires states, territories, and ITOs to cover 50 percent of all administrative costs with nonfederal dollars for their match. Those not providing benefits in 2024 can commit to providing benefits in 2025 and use 2024 to plan, while drawing down federal matching funds to support implementing in 2025.

A complete summary of the IFR is available here. For questions about Summer EBT or to be connected to state advocacy opportunities, contact Kelsey Boone at KBoone@frac.org.