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District Announces DC SUN Bucks to Support Families with Students

Wednesday, May 8, 2024


Washington, DC Among One of the First Ten States Approved to Receive Funds for Summer Meals Benefits  

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, the District announced that Washington, DC was among the first ten states approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to receive SUN Bucks, also known as Summer EBT. So far, the District and twenty-four (24) other states have been approved for this new federal benefits program that will launch this summer. In December 2022, Congress created a new, permanent program replacing the summer pandemic program to provide low-income families with students additional food access over the summer months. This program will help close the summer hunger gap when students do not have access to nutritious school meals. Eligible students will receive a one-time $120 EBT benefit to purchase food when school is out.  

SUN Bucks will benefit all DC students, from Pre-K and up, who live in a household with an annual income less than or equal to 185% of the federal poverty level and attend a school participating in the National School Lunch or Breakfast Program. For example, students in a household of three people earning at or below $45,991 annually ($3,833 monthly) would be eligible for SUN Bucks. Students in a household of four people earning at or below $55,500 annually ($4,625 monthly) would also be eligible. Some students will get these benefits automatically and do not need to apply—students receiving SNAP or TANF are preapproved. Families who are not preapproved for SUN Bucks will need to submit a short, online application.  

“As educators, we know that healthy bodies and minds even during summer break are the foundation of academic success. We also know that learners can’t focus on academics when they’re hungry and one of their most vital needs – nutritious meals – goes unmet,” said State Superintendent Dr. Christina Grant, whose agency, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), administers several USDA grant programs, helps schools and community organizations develop school gardens and farm-to-school programs, and oversees monitoring and compliance for child nutrition programs. “SUN Bucks, along with the DC Youth Meals Program, will help children get the nutrition they need when school is out of session.” 

The District will distribute almost $10 million in benefits from USDA to an estimated 80,000 students, and Mayor Bowser has already committed the necessary $1.6 million for local administrative costs. 

“We are thrilled that the District will be able to offer SUN Bucks to families this summer,” said Laura Green Zeilinger, Director of the Department of Human Services, “SUN Bucks will provide critical food and nutrition for children and families. It will also support the District’s local economy by bringing federal dollars to our farmers markets, grocers, and healthy corner stores. We are grateful to work in partnership with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, the Office of Food Policy at the Office of Planning, and The Lab @ DC to support food security during out-of-school time.” 

The benefits will be provided on a new Electronic Benefit Transaction (EBT) card and can be used to buy food at any authorized SNAP retailer, like grocery stores and farmers markets. Benefits will be available to use for four months after they are issued.  

“The District is improving opportunities for our children and teens to access healthy, culturally relevant food while they’re in school and out,” said Food Policy Director, Caroline Howe. “SUN Bucks is a key part of supporting families to thrive during the summer.” 

Residents can review eligibility guidelines, apply for the program, and sign up for an alert when applications open at