New Jersey Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Joe Atchison III recently announced that New Jersey is one of the 35 states that will be participating in the USDA’s new Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer program to provide more food availability to children and families in need during the summer months, beginning this year.

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. According to USDA estimates, New Jersey will have well over 500,000 children eligible for Summer EBT for a total distribution of nearly $65 million in federal food security benefits.

“The addition of Summer EBT will provide another opportunity for children and families in need to purchase healthy and nutritious food during the summer months when school lunch programs are not available,” Atchison said. “No child or family should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. This is an important step in bridging food security gaps for all New Jersey families.”

This new program is made possible by federal and state cost-sharing, with some additional funding provided by the New Jersey Food Security Initiative through the Food Research and Action Center and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“New Jersey’s Summer EBT program is a significant step forward in our efforts to address food insecurity among children and families,” Acting Commissioner of Education Kevin Dehmer said. “We know the crucial role that access to nutritious meals plays in a child’s ability to learn and grow – the nearly $65 million in benefits of this program will provide nutrition for over half a million students during the summer months, when children do not have access to school-based programs. The collaboration of agencies working together to ensure that every child has the essential nutrition they need to thrive demonstrates New Jersey’s commitment to this goal.”

Eligible students will be certified through their school districts, which must participate in the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs. Eligible students must meet the income threshold for federal free and reduced-price meals, including those who attend schools that provide free meals to all students through the Community Eligibility Provision. Additionally, students who are enrolled in SNAP, TANF, or foster care will be eligible for Summer EBT, regardless of where they attend school.

Information about New Jersey’s Summer EBT program, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, can be found on the state’s newly created Summer EBT website. 

The USDA estimates that, in total, the states, U.S. territories, and tribes that have committed to launching the Summer EBT program in 2024 will serve close to 21 million children, providing a total of nearly $2.5 billion in grocery benefits. This is around 70 percent of the total population of children eligible for Summer EBT. The USDA expects additional states and tribes will provide Summer EBT in 2025.

Learn more in the full news release.