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Eligible children can get $120 in summer food benefits under new Pa. program

  • By Lucy Albright/LNP | LancasterOnline
The Department of Human Services building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

 JOSE F. MORENO / Philadelphia Inquirer

The Department of Human Services building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Applications are open for a new program that will offer $120 in summer food benefits to low income children in Pennsylvania.

The Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer program, also known as SUN Bucks or Summer EBT, will give eligible families $120 per eligible child during the summer, the state Department of Human Services said.

“Summer is a time when many children do not have access to the free and reduced-price meals they get during the school year, and families might need a little extra help putting healthy meals on the table,” said state Department of Human Services secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh.

Households with children that already receive certain other benefits are automatically enrolled in SUN Bucks, according to the department. Other eligible families will need to submit an application either by mail or at a County Assistance Office.

Families can find out if they’re eligible and whether they need to apply by using the department’s navigator tool:

Children who automatically qualify include those who applied and were found eligible for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch or Breakfast Program, as well as those in households that receive SNAP or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, according to the department and to press secretary Brandon Cwalina. More information on automatic eligibility is available at

Across 16 Lancaster County school districts, around 17,000 students receive free lunch and around 18,000 receive free breakfast, according to information LNP | LancasterOnline collected from districts last winter. Those numbers include Octorara Area School District, but don’t include Pequea Valley.

Being at a school where all students receive free or reduced price meals does not automatically qualify a student for SUN Bucks. Families in that situation need to apply for SUN Bucks unless they meet the criteria for automatic eligibility, according to the department.

Applications for SUN Bucks are open now through Aug. 31, and benefits for summer 2024 will be issued from mid-August through the end of October, the department said. Benefits will be automatically added to existing EBT cards if possible, or will be sent by mail on new cards labeled Summer EBT, according to Cwalina and the department.

Dates and other details for the SUN Bucks program beyond 2024 are not yet available, according to Cwalina.

Pennsylvania is one of more than 30 states that have signed on to the federal SUN Bucks program, which was launched in 2024, according to USDA webpages.

Staff writer Ashley Stalnecker contributed to this report.

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