‘Hunger doesn’t take a break’: USDA program aims to help Md. families through the summer

Summer can leave some students hungry in Maryland. But Gov. Wes Moore said help from the SUN Bucks program will be available this year.

Moore said the United States Department of Agriculture program is in addition to the Summer Food Service Program that provides free meals on-site in some low-income neighborhoods when school is out.

“Hunger doesn’t take a break during the summer months,” said LaMonica Jones, Interim Director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, a nonprofit that works on eradicating hunger in Maryland.

Maryland Hunger Solutions works with the Maryland Department of Human Services in ensuring that families don’t go without food.

The $60 million federally funded program will help keep food on family tables.

The SUN Bucks program allots an additional $40 a month in June, July and August for each child in households that receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits.

The SUN Bucks can be used at authorized grocery stores, retailers and farmer’s markets. The key to the program is providing flexibility to families.

“We want to them to be able to purchase meals and the food items that we know that they’ll consume,” Jones told WTOP.

The funds to expand summer meals are added to EBT cards already distributed to families that qualify for SNAP, said Jones.

Jones said families getting SNAP or TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) benefits automatically qualify for the SUN Bucks program.

She said the program is also available to students who attend what are called “community eligibility provision schools,” but their families would “have to submit an application in order to determine eligibility to receive SUN Bucks.”

Jones explained that CEP schools are those that have universal eligibility for free meals at school for all students.

SUN Bucks are also available to eligible families in the District and across Virginia.

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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