Food and Nutrition Security, Policy

Biden-Harris Administration Launches New Suite of Summer Nutrition Programs to Tackle Hunger and Improve Healthy Eating for Millions of Children

May 21, 2024

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today the launch of “SUN Programs: USDA’s Summer Nutrition Programs for Kids,” to help improve nutrition security during the summer months. Through the suite of SUN programs, families now have more choices and convenient ways to get summer nutrition support for their children and teens with new SUN Bucks, SUN Meals, and previously launched SUN Meals To-Go. Collectively, these programs continue the work of the Biden-Harris Administration in promoting food and nutrition security.

“Nearly 30 million children participate in USDA’s school breakfast and lunch programs on an average school day, but when school is out, kids lose access to those vital meals,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “USDA’s SUN programs offer more options for families to conveniently access the essential nutrition children need to thrive, learn and grow during summer and beyond.”

SUN Bucks, the new evidence-based Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (Summer EBT) program, provides a grocery benefit of $120 per eligible school-aged child this summer; the benefit value will be adjusted annually for inflation and is higher outside of the contiguous 48 states. SUN Bucks helps families and caregivers expand their summer grocery budget to buy foods that best fit their family’s needs, cultural traditions and preferences. Research shows that this type of summer grocery benefit can reduce child hunger in the summer by 33%, and also improve eating patterns with increased whole grain, dairy, and fruit and vegetable consumption by children in participating households.

This inaugural summer, many states, the District of Columbia, all U.S. territories, and some tribal nations are partnering with USDA to make SUN Bucks available in their communities. About 21 million children are expected to benefit from SUN Bucks this summer.

In participating areas, SUN Bucks can be used at a variety of grocery stores and other food retailers and are in addition to other food benefits families may already receive, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). Families with eligible children currently receiving SNAP and other benefits will automatically be enrolled in SUN Bucks; others will need to apply each year.

In addition to the new grocery benefit, SUN programs also provide nutritious meal and snack services during the summer months to kids 18 and under in communities and among populations with high rates of poverty throughout the U.S.:

  • SUN Meals are served at schools, parks, community centers, and other neighborhood locations. This long-standing in-person summer meals program has been available in communities since 1968. Meals are often provided along with enrichment activities to support children’s healthy growth and development.
  • SUN Meals To-Go, launched in 2023, offers pick-up and delivery options in some rural areas when and where SUN Meals are not available.

“It’s heartening to see Congress’s bipartisan action to help make sure no child goes hungry during the summer months,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small. “President Biden’s investment in high-quality, nutritious school meals creates healthier brighter futures for kids across America and USDA’s SUN programs give families more ways than ever to support their kids’ nutritional needs.”

These nutrition programs advance the goals of the Biden-Harris Administration’s national strategy to end hunger and reduce diet-related disease by 2030 set forth at the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022.

To help families connect to services in their community, USDA’s SUN programs website, www.fns.usda.gov/summer, directs visitors to local resources, including how to find a nearby SUN Meals site and see if SUN Meals To-Go are available in their area. Information will be updated throughout the summer. USDA’s SUN programs website also provides information on SUN Bucks and links visitors to the states and jurisdictions offering the new grocery benefit. The site is also available in Spanish at www.fns.usda.gov/verano.