HSPAI Call on Summer Hunger Opportunities


For some children, summer is a time of play – pool days, summer camps, and a welcome break for school. However, for children facing food insecurity, summer can present a time of increased hunger and a lack of access to critical food programs. Last December, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which offers two new opportunities for states to combat summer childhood hunger: the establishment of a permanent Summer EBT program that will provide eligible families an additional $40/child/month for groceries; and the creation of a non-congregate option for summer meal programs for rural, underserved areas. Both opportunities require an investment of state time, staff, or resources to stand up, but offer an exciting chance to build on existing momentum to end childhood summer hunger.   


  • Farrag Buff, Director, External and Governmental Affairs at USDA and Nutrition Service
  • Bernadette Downey, Associate Director, Government Relations and Advocacy at Share Our Strength

Key Takeaways

Program Nuances for Summer EBT and Non-congregate Meals: 

  • For non-congregate meal delivery, only rural areas who do not have access to a congregate meal setting are eligible for non-congregate or delivered meals 
  • For Summer EBT, states must automatically enroll certain eligible children without an application – children already determined eligible for SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, or that have filled out an application for free and reduced-price meals 
  • For Summer EBT, states must make applications available to students to enroll children who are not automatically enrolled (like children in CEP schools)  

Challenges to Summer EBT Implementation:  

  • Congress only provided 50% administrative reimbursement, so states must contribute a nonfederal 50% match  
  • Rolling out applications for kids in CEP schools  
  • Necessary coordination across state agencies 


  • Summer 2023: Non-congregate meals service delivery is available to certain rural areas 
  • By end of 2023: USDA to publish a set of interim final regulations by December that contain the policy contours for Summer EBT and non-congregate meals programs 
  • January 2024: States must notify USDA of their intent to operate Summer EBT 

How Governors can support the implementation of these programs: 

  • Facilitate collaboration across child nutrition agencies, education, and state SNAP agencies 
  • Secure 50% match funding for administrating Summer EBT 
  • Invest in Summer EBT implementation (State-level Summer EBT application, data systems, customer service infrastructure) 

Resources For States