February 12, 2024

Rep. Mike Levin Announces New Summer EBT Program for Low-Income Students

Rep. Levin & USDA Deputy Secretary visit Mission Elementary School to promote new program to provide nutritional food access to millions of children

                                                 EBT Lunch      Presser

Rep. Levin announces Summer EBT Program

Oceanside, CA - Rep. Mike Levin (CA-49) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small today visited Mission Elementary School to announce the details of the new Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Program that will provide nutritional food access to millions of children in California and across the country.

Summer EBT will provide $120 per child in grocery benefits to low-income families with school-aged children when schools are closed for the summer. It will help 21 million children across America to afford healthy and nutritious foods and will provide approximately $2.5 billion in grocery benefits. In California, Summer EBT is expected to serve over 3.8 million children.

Earlier this year, USDA announced that 35 states, all five territories, and four tribes have opted into the Summer EBT Program. States that do not participate this summer will have the option to start the program in subsequent years. Families and students can find more information on applying for Summer EBT benefits here.

“I'm proud to see the Summer EBT Program become a permanent fixture in our school systems,” said Rep. Levin. “I first introduced legislation in 2021 for a permanent EBT program because no child should go hungry when schools are closed. In order to tackle food insecurity among children, it’s vital for families to be able to afford nutritious foods. The Summer EBT Program gives families the financial support they need to do just that. I thank USDA Deputy Secretary Torres Small for being a partner in fighting food insecurity and for joining us in Oceanside to highlight the program. I will continue fighting to ensure this program is implemented successfully, and to strengthen the program by raising the benefit amount and expanding the program to all school breaks.”

"We know that consistent access to healthy, nutritious meals is key to helping children reach their full potential," said USDA Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small. “Through the National School Lunch Program, Summer EBT, WIC, and more, the Biden-Harris Administration is tackling food insecurity and building healthier, brighter futures for our nation's children.”

"It is very exciting to be one of the first states to participate in the new USDA Permanent Summer EBT Program, reaching our families here in Oceanside especially challenged by higher housing and food costs. This bipartisan program will fill the gap in addressing child food insecurities, providing families $120 per child this summer to buy nutritional, healthy food at grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Many thanks to our Congressman Mike Levin and the USDA,” said Oceanside Mayor Esther Sanchez.

Rep. Levin was a driving force in getting the permanent Summer EBT Program established. In May 2021, Rep. Levin introduced legislation to convert the Summer EBT pilot into a permanent, nationwide program. In September 2021, he led a letter with 48 colleagues urging Congressional leadership to include a permanent EBT program in a government funding package. The Fiscal Year 2023 government funding legislation included the permanent authorization for Summer EBT.

Rep. Levin has introduced the Stop Child Hunger Act of 2023 to strengthen the newly established Summer EBT Program. It would expand the program to cover all school closures longer than five consecutive days, which would include winter break and any closures for natural disasters. It would also increase the benefit amount to be equal to the value of covering breakfast, lunch, and a snack for every day school is closed. The new bill would also authorize $50 million in implementation grants to support states as they transition to the new program.

“As a wife and mother of two small children, giving my family healthy food options is important to me. A program like this really helps me make the best choices when feeding my family,” said Ariel, mother of two children in the Oceanside Unified School District.

“We are grateful that our families will benefit from this new Summer EBT program. Ensuring that our students have food to eat contributes to their academic success and overall well-being,” said Julie A. Vitale, Ph.D., OUSD Superintendent.