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Sun bucks program

SUN Bucks to address summer food insecurity

State program helps families fill the food cost gap between school year end and return

Families rely on sunscreen to protect their kids’ skin and sunshine to make a perfect Puget Sound summer. And now, thanks to funding from the state’s Department of Social and Human Services,  many families will be able to rely on SUN Bucks, a new permanent, nationwide Summer EBT program to support children who lose access to free and reduced-price school meals during the summer months. SUN Bucks gives $120 in food benefits to each eligible child in the family—support that complements but is separate from existing nutrition assistance programs

How to receive SUN Bucks

Much like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), SUN Bucks is a flexible food benefit that families can use to help offset rising food costs. The program, state officials say, also supports local economies. SUN Bucks aims to help families bridge the gap in the summer months when kids are not in school, when they may receive free or low-cost meals. The new program will work alongside city free meal programs. 

If your child receives free or reduced-price school meals, they’re automatically eligible for SUN Bucks. Children in households benefiting from SNAP, FAP, TANF, or SFA are also instantly qualified,

If your child is not automatically enrolled, you can apply to determine eligibility at your child’s school district before the school year ends. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) provides a comprehensive list of Washington school districts, with links to each district’s meal application and income survey.

You can also apply with Social and Health Services (DSHS) from mid-June to August 31st. Text alerts are available—opt-in to stay informed about the application window. Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about the SUN Bucks program. Answers are provided by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services.

Sun Bucks program logo

How do children receive SUN Bucks?

Once approved by USDA, approximately 550,000 Washington children will meet the eligibility requirements to receive SUN Bucks benefits for summer 2024. Certain children will automatically qualify based on enrollment criteria for specific schools and/or public assistance programs. Children who do not automatically qualify may apply. Once the state plan has been approved and funding is provided, exact details will be provided.

 What else should I know about SUN Bucks?

Summer EBT/SUN Bucks complements USDA nutrition programs like SNAP, summer meal programs, and Women, Infants, and Children. In Washington, SUN Bucks will be co-managed by the Department of Social and Health Services and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

How much money will each child get?

Each eligible child will receive a one-time payment of $120 in food benefits on a dedicated SUN Bucks card.

When will children get SUN Bucks?

The state plans to issue SUN Bucks from mid-June through the end of August 2024. During this period, children may receive benefits at different times depending on how they qualify. Once qualified, children will receive an approval notice and SUN Bucks EBT card via U.S. mail within seven to ten business days. We will share more information on benefit issuance timelines soon.  

Do these benefits expire?

Yes. SUN Bucks benefits expire 122 days from issuance. Unlike SNAP EBT, SUN Bucks lost regardless of usage. Once benefits are removed from an EBT card, they cannot be replaced. (So use these benefits first!)

What about P-EBT?

SUN Bucks may seem similar to Pandemic EBT, but it is a separate program. P-EBT ended along with the federal public health emergency in May 2023. For more information on P-EBT, please visit www.dshs.wa.gov/pebt.

How do I learn more?

We are working out implementation details and will have more information soon. USDA has approved the state plan, and the Washington State Legislature has approved the state funding required to match the federal funding. This website is the primary source of information and will include regular updates.

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Seattle Child Staff

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