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Governor Sanders today announced that Arkansas has joined Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), a new program that will provide assistance to families to purchase food during the summer months for children who qualify for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Summer EBT is launching this year and will provide $120 in food benefits for each eligible child over the summer months.
“Making sure no Arkansan goes hungry, especially children, is a top concern for my administration. We are leveraging every resource at our disposal to fight this crisis, and Summer EBT promises to be an important new tool to give Arkansas children the food and nutrition they need. I am thankful to Senator Boozman for his leadership on this issue and to our many stakeholders like the Hunger Alliance. We will continue to engage with our partners in the public and private sector to reduce food insecurity across the state,” said Governor Sanders.
“Nutrition is critical to the ability of youth to thrive in and out of the classroom. My colleagues and I dedicated a lot of time and effort toward modernizing the outdated summer meals program with the help of Natural State nutrition advocates to ensure it serves more children in need by offering states multiple options—including a summer EBT program—to help tackle this challenge. I am extremely pleased Arkansas is utilizing this promising new tool we added to the toolbox for states to address food insecurity. I appreciate the Governor’s commitment to implement the summer EBT program so children have the food they need to succeed,” said Senator John Boozman (R-AR).
“No child should ever go hungry,” said DHS Secretary Kristi Putnam. “Summer EBT will allow us to further help combat food insecurity across Arkansas by providing critical resources for eligible families to provide much needed nutritious food for their children, even when school is out. We are excited to join ADE in standing up this program and seeing the positive impact it will have on children in our state.”
“There’s no question that hunger may have a detrimental impact on student learning,” Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Jacob Oliva said. “Food insecurity affects students not just during the school year, but also during the summer months as well. We are pleased to partner with the Governor’s Office and DHS to address this problem. The Summer EBT Program is a step in the right direction to ensuring no child goes hungry.”
Arkansas’ Department of Human Services (DHS) and Department of Education (ADE) submitted a joint notice to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service that Arkansas intends to participate in the Summer EBT program. The two state agencies will now collaborate on a state operation plan that will detail how benefits will be administered beginning in summer 2024.
The benefit will be provided on pre-loaded EBT cards similar to ones used for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). These cards can be used by eligible families to purchase groceries.
School-aged children who receive SNAP benefits are eligible and will automatically qualify for the Summer EBT benefits. If a student attends an NSLP school and has individually been determined to be eligible for free and reduced meals, the student will automatically qualify for Summer EBT benefits as well.
Benefits provided to eligible families through Summer EBT are federally funded, and the administration of the program will be evenly split between federal and state funding.
Combatting food insecurity, especially among children, is one of Governor Sanders’ top priorities. She signed legislation during her first legislative session that gives free breakfast and lunch to students who previously qualified for reduced meals. She has also directed her staff to work with stakeholders on a plan that will address this critical issue.