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Shapiro Administration Announces Plan to Provide Food Access for Students During Summer Break

01/10/2024

After securing universal free breakfast for public school students as part of the 2023-24 budget, the Shapiro Administration will work to ensure students continue to receive healthy meals during the summer. 

Harrisburg, PA - The Departments of Human Services (DHS) and Education (PDE) today announced the Commonwealth’s intent to operate the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (Summer-EBT) program in summer 2024, allowing children to access nutritious meals during the summer months when school is not in session.  

“Healthy, nutritious meals are vital to the overall health and success of all of Pennsylvania’s children, and the Shapiro Administration knows they cannot and should not be expected to go without meals and the basic resources they need to succeed, regardless of the time of year,” said DHS Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh. “Summer-EBT builds upon the work Governor Shapiro and his Administration are already doing to address student hunger by securing funding in the 2023-24 budget to provide universal free breakfast for more than one million public school students. We are so pleased to offer this program to the students who need it so they can continue to access these meals during the summer months while schools are closed.” 

The 2023-24 budget delivers a $46.5 million increase to provide universal free breakfast to Pennsylvania’s 1.7 million public school students. Thanks to this increase, every public school student regardless of income will be eligible to receive free breakfast. The funding also provides free lunch to all 22,000 Pennsylvania students who are eligible for reduced-price lunches through the National School Lunch Program. 

“Children cannot learn on empty stomachs, and the need for healthy and nutritious meals doesn’t end with school,” said PDE Secretary Dr. Khalid N. Mumin. “This school year, the Shapiro Administration is making sure all 1.7 million public school students in Pennsylvania have access to free breakfast at school. We will keep fighting hunger through Summer-EBT so that children can return to school after summer ready to learn.” 

The Summer-EBT program was created by the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 to provide school aged children who are income eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) with an additional source of nutrition during the summer months when children are not in school to receive school meals.  

The total Summer-EBT benefit is set by federal law at $40 per month per eligible child to cover the three summer months – June, July, and August. Pennsylvania will be issuing the Summer EBT benefit as a single $120 issuance with all benefits issued by September 30, 2024. Summer-EBT benefits will be issued on a family’s existing EBT card, if possible, or a new EBT card will be issued to newly eligible families. 

An estimated 600,000 to 900,000 children will be automatically issued Summer-EBT benefits based on their eligibility for Free or Reduced-Priced meals under the NSLP.  

The groups of children who will be eligible for Summer-EBT include: 

  • Children who are determined income eligible for Free or Reduced-Priced meals under the NSLP by applying through their school. 

  • Children who are categorically eligible for NSLP because they are a foster child, a homeless child, or a runaway and they attend an NSLP participating school. 

  • Children who are eligible for Free or Reduced-Priced meals under the NSLP through direct certification. Directly certified children are children who are receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits or certain Medical Assistance eligibility.  

  • If a child eligible through direct certification is aged six through seventeen, they will qualify for Summer-EBT regardless of whether they attend an NSLP participating school.  

  • If a child eligible through direct certification is aged five or younger or aged eighteen or older, they will qualify only if they are enrolled in an NSLP participating school. 

Since most eligible children will be enrolled in Summer-EBT automatically, only a limited number of families will need to submit an application. Applications for Summer-EBT will need to be submitted to DHS’ County Assistance Offices to determine eligibility.  

Applications for Summer-EBT are not yet available. The application process and additional details will be detailed further in the coming months. 

Schools that do not currently participate in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs are encouraged to do so and can find information for applying on the Department of Education’s website.  

Additional information on the Summer-EBT program can be found here

MEDIA CONTACT:

Brandon Cwalina, DHS - ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov 

Taj Magruder, PDE -  tmagruder@pa.gov 

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