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March 1, 2024    
PO Box 330
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0330           


(TRENTON) – New Jersey Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Joe Atchison III announced today that New Jersey is one of the 35 states that will be participating in the USDA’s new Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (Summer EBT) program to provide more food availability to children and families in need during the summer months, beginning this year.

States will provide families with $120 per eligible child for the summer to buy food at grocery stores, farmers markets, or other authorized retailers – similar to how SNAP benefits are used. According to USDA estimates, New Jersey will have well over 500,000 children eligible for Summer EBT for a total distribution of nearly $65 million in federal food security benefits.

“The addition of Summer EBT will provide another opportunity for children and families in need to purchase healthy and nutritious food during the summer months when school lunch programs are not available,” Assistant Secretary Atchison said. “No child or family should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. This is an important step in bridging food security gaps for all New Jersey families.”

This new program is made possible by Federal and State cost-sharing, with some additional funding provided by the New Jersey Food Security Initiative (NJFSI) through the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“By committing to launch Summer EBT this summer, New Jersey continues to show its dedication to ensuring food security for as many families as possible,” Director of the New Jersey Office of the Food Security Advocate Mark Dinglasan said. “New Jersey is unique in that it is combining the collaborative efforts of the Departments of Agriculture, Human Services, and Education to launch Summer EBT with outreach efforts from key partners and stakeholders in NJ that ensure many parents and schools have the information they need to take advantage of this program. We are bringing partners together to ensure we can support our students in the summer and it’s inspiring to be a part of these efforts,”

“The summer months can be difficult for families that rely on the nutritional support provided by the school lunch program," Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman said. "The addition of Summer EBT will help ensure that families and children have access to healthy food so important to their health throughout the year. This administration continues to prioritize food security for all because regular access to healthy foods means healthier people and communities. I look forward to continuing our work with the Departments of Agriculture and Education to bridge the food gap and provide equitable access to nutritious food for New Jersey’s most vulnerable families.”

“New Jersey’s Summer EBT program is a significant step forward in our efforts to address food insecurity among children and families,” Acting Commissioner of Education Kevin Dehmer said. “We know the crucial role that access to nutritious meals plays in a child’s ability to learn and grow – the nearly $65 million in benefits of this program will provide nutrition for over half a million students during the summer months, when children do not have access to school-based programs. The collaboration of agencies working together to ensure that every child has the essential nutrition they need to thrive demonstrates New Jersey’s commitment to this goal.”

Eligible students will be certified through their school districts, which must participate in the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs. Eligible students must meet the income threshold for federal free and reduced-price meals, including those who attend schools that provide free meals to all students through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). Additionally, students who are enrolled in SNAP, TANF, or foster care will be eligible for Summer EBT, regardless of where they attend school.

Information about New Jersey’s Summer EBT program, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, can be found on the State’s newly created Summer EBT website at:

The USDA estimates that, in total, the states, U.S. territories, and tribes that have committed to launching the Summer EBT program in 2024 will serve close to 21 million children, providing a total of nearly $2.5 billion in grocery benefits. This is around 70 percent of the total population of children eligible for Summer EBT. The USDA expects additional states and tribes will provide Summer EBT in 2025.

“Summer grocery benefits are becoming a reality for many communities across the nation and for tens of millions of children who will receive the nutrition they need to grow, learn, and thrive,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “We applaud all the leaders and partners who are stepping up to make the program’s inaugural year a success. Together we’re making progress in closing the summer hunger gap and ensuring children are nourished and healthy year-round.”

Rigorous evaluations of a multi-year demonstration project showed that providing Summer EBT cards to eligible students reduced child hunger and improved diet quality. Summer grocery benefits decreased the number of kids with very low food security by about one-third and supported healthier diets featuring more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, States, certain Indian Tribal Organizations, and territories operated a temporary program similar to Summer EBT, which demonstrated the potential of expanding the program nationwide. Research found that this program decreased children’s food hardship by 33 percent after benefits were issued and lifted between 2.7 to 3.9 million children out of hunger. This new Summer EBT program builds off Pandemic EBT which provided $1.5 billion in federal food security benefits to NJ families from 2020-2023.


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