June 7, 2024

SUN Bucks: Part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s New Suite of Summer Nutrition Programs

The Biden-Harris Administration has made history with the launch of a new suite of summer nutrition programs aimed at tackling hunger and improving healthy eating for millions of children. These “SUN Programs,” announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on May 21, 2024, include new grocery benefits, in-person meals, and to-go meals. SUN Bucks, a key component of these programs, will start in June 2024, providing vital food benefits to eligible children during the summer months.

“At WithinReach, we help families get connected to the resources they need to be healthy,” said Maricruz Sanchez, Senior Manager of Coordinated Access at WithinReach. “Access to good nutrition is a cornerstone to healthy growth and development, particularly for growing kids. School meals are an essential nutritional resource that is sadly lost throughout the summer months when school is out of session, leaving too many of our kids and families vulnerable and without adequate meals. SUN Bucks will play a critical role in helping us bridge that summer hunger gap.

“Because families are issued benefits via Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), they can integrate this benefit into their usual shopping and buy the foods that are best suited to them and their nutritional needs. I’m excited to share this invaluable resource with families in the months to come.”

Overview of SUN Programs

The SUN Programs — SUN Bucks, SUN Meals, and SUN Meals To-Go (also called which are an expansion of Summer Meals) — are designed to offer families more choices and convenient ways to access summer nutrition support for their children and teens. These initiatives continue the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to promote food and nutrition security across the nation.

“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: Summer Grocery Benefits

SUN Bucks, an 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 help families expand their summer grocery budget to buy foods that best fit their family’s needs, cultural traditions, and preferences. Research shows that summer grocery benefits can reduce child hunger in the summer by 33 percent and improve eating patterns, increasing the consumption of whole grains, dairy, and fruits and vegetables.

Program Details

  • Benefit Amount: Each eligible child will receive $120 in food benefits for the summer period. This is a one-time issuance per year.
  • Issuance Period: Benefits will be distributed between mid-June and the end of August 2024.
  • Permanent Program: SUN Bucks will be an annual program, providing consistent support every summer.
  • New Cards: Benefits will not be loaded onto existing P-EBT cards. Instead, new cards will be issued specifically for SUN Bucks.
  • Usage: SUN Bucks can be used to access SNAP Market Match programs at Farmers Markets and a variety of grocery stores and food retailers.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Children will be automatically enrolled in SUN Bucks if they meet the following criteria between July 1, 2023, and August 31, 2024:
  • Age 8-18 and part of a household that received SNAP/Basic Food, TANF Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or State Family Assistance (SFA), or
  • Age 8-18 and enrolled in a school that offers the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or School Breakfast Program (SBP) and qualify for free/reduced-price meals at school.
  • Direct Certification: Kids identified to their school as homeless, foster, or migrant students should also be directly certified and enrolled.

Important Considerations

  • Separate Eligibility & Issuance: SUN Bucks eligibility and issuance are entirely separate from DSHS Department of Social and Health Services systems. Families will need to use the dedicated SUN Bucks Customer Service Contact Center for assistance.
  • Customer Service Contact: For any questions or support, families can call 1-833-543-3230, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Text Alerts: Families can opt into text alerts about their child’s SUN Bucks status at
  • Benefit Expiration: Please encourage families to use their SUN Bucks once received. Benefits will expire 122 days (about four months) from issuance and will be removed if not used.
  • No Citizenship Requirements: The Public Charge rule does not apply to SUN Bucks benefits and will not impact immigration status.
  • Approval Letters: Approval letters will be mailed to the address reported to DSHS or schools.


SUN Meals and SUN Meals To-Go

In addition to SUN Bucks, the SUN Programs also include:

  • SUN Meals: Nutritious meals served at schools, parks, community centers, and other neighborhood locations. This program has been available since 1968 and often includes enrichment activities to support children’s healthy growth and development.
  • SUN Meals To-Go: Launched in 2023, this program offers pick-up and delivery options in rural areas where SUN Meals are not available.

These initiatives align with the Biden-Harris Administration’s national strategy to end hunger and reduce diet-related disease by 2030, set forth at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022.

For more information about SUN Bucks and other SUN Programs, visit USDA’s SUN programs website ( or Washington State Department of Health and Human Services website (

Community-based organizations connecting families with this resource can use the SUN BUCKS  Outreach Toolkit at or directly on Google Drive.

Families can also reach out to the Help Me Grow hotline 1-800-322-2588 to get guidance about accessing food.

Together, we can ensure that every child has the resources they need to live healthy and happy lives.