New SUN Bucks Food Assistance Program Launching This Summer

By: David Donovan | Published: Jun 26, 2024

Hunger issues increase in the summer for some kids who depend on school lunches for regular meals when school is in session. 

By providing funds for millions of families to use toward grocery shopping, a brand-new federal program aims to address the “summer food gap.”

Additional Food Funds

Under the SUN Bucks program, which will begin this summer, some families have begun to receive additional food funds.  

United States Department of Agriculture, Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building, Washington DC (12 June 2007)

Wikimedia Commons user Dlz28

In May, the Biden administration announced that the Department of Agriculture (USDA) would launch a series of “SUN Programs” to provide additional summer food assistance to eligible families. 


Program Specifics

SUN Bucks are essentially an additional allocation of food assistance funds to households receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or other food assistance programs. 

US Department of Agriculture building in Washington, D.C.

Wikimedia Commons user Billy Hathorn

The USDA estimates that approximately 21 million children will benefit from the program this summer.


In a significant majority of the U.S., qualified families with school-aged children can get an extra $120 in food help funds to purchase food and snacks throughout the summer through SUN Bucks.

green and white labeled plastic bottle on a brown wooden shelf

Unsplash user Aaron Doucett

Some states and territories will have a higher amount: To compensate for the higher cost of food in Alaska, Hawaii, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands, households can receive additional funds.

Initiative Acceptance

According to a spokesperson for the USDA, the SUN Bucks program was made available to all 50 states, tribes, and territories. However, only 36 states, the District of Columbia, five territories, and two tribes have chosen to participate in the program.  

man in red t-shirt and woman in white t-shirt distributing food into bags

Unsplash user Ismael Paramo

In an email to The Hill, a USDA spokesperson stated, “This is the inaugural year of the program, meaning states and tribes are not launching this summer will have future opportunities to opt-in to this valuable program.” 

Participating States

On the USDA website, you can find a map of the states, territories, and tribes that are participating. Families who are interested can also check with the local agency that oversees SNAP to see if their state is participating in the program.

EBT cards for different states fanned out

Flickr user USDAgov

SUN Bucks can be applied for by households with school-aged children who are enrolled in food assistance programs like SNAP, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).  


Summer EBT

What’s more, families with kids in that age range who meet the necessities free of charge and reduced-price school meals are likewise qualified to apply for the program.

EBT cards piled on top of each other for different states

Wikimedia Commons user United States Department of Agriculture

SUN Bucks, also known as summer EBT, can be applied for by households or families that do not receive state or federal food assistance through the state department that oversees EBT and SNAP. 


Fund Availability

If a household is interested in the program but does not receive benefits or has not previously qualified for free or reduced lunch, they should first check to see if the funds are available in their area.

San Antonio Food Bank providing information and the SNAP application to help the family with their needs

Flickr user USDAgov

After that, interested households should check with the state agency in their area that is in charge of SNAP to see if their online Summer EBT application is currently available.



All families with kids, regardless of citizenship status, are qualified to apply as long as they meet the income specifications.

USDA is working hard to expand access to farmers’ markets for those participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Flickr user USDAgov

According to the USDA’s website, households with children who are already enrolled in other benefits like SNAP will most likely receive SUN Bucks funds this summer automatically if they live in a participating state, territory, or tribe.


Initial Installments

Some states, like Louisianna, Arizona, Washington, and California, have begun to give those installments to EBT cards or mail out SUN Bucks cards to qualified families previously getting benefits.  

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan (right) pays Michelle Kadlec (left) for green beans and cucumbers at Baltimore’s Farmers Market and Bazaar in Baltimore, MD on Sunday, July 8, 2012.

Flickr user USDAgov

Participating states can choose to distribute the $120 to households as one-time payments by the beginning of September or divide it into weekly or monthly installments.  


Applications and Deadlines

Some states, like Kentucky, are currently accepting Summer EBT applications, while others, like New York, are getting ready to soon accept applications online.

UDSA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Deputy Administrator Arthur Neal gives remarks during the Annual Student Intern and Early Career Talent Welcome Event on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, at the USDA Headquarters, Washington D.C.

Flickr user USDAgov

The application deadlines for Summer EBT vary by state, but they typically occur in early August or early September. 



According to the USDA, SUN Bucks must be distributed and available for use 15 operational days after a state Summer EBT agency receives an application.

Dr. Tameka Owens, USDA Food and Nutrition Service Assistant Administrator, gives remarks during the Annual Student Intern and Early Career Talent Welcome Event on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, at the USDA Headquarters, Washington D.C.

Flickr user USDAgov

The USDA decided to distribute $120 in additional food funds this year; however, the amount will be adjusted annually beginning next summer.  

According to a USDA spokesperson, the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), which determines the maximum amount of SNAP benefits eligible individuals and families can receive as a fixed amount every month, will be the basis for changes to the SUN Bucks allotment.