New program provides healthy summer meals for IN students

Families will have 120 days from when they receive their SUN Bucks cards to use the money. (Adobe stock)

A new program in Indiana will ensure year-round access to nutritious meals for students statewide.

The Summer Electronic Transfer program provides a one-time $120 payment for school-aged children on an EBT card. The card can be used at grocery stores, farmers markets and other retailers.

Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana's Hungry, said history shows programs such as SUN Bucks are effective.

"What we learned from the pandemic is that when we provide benefits like this, allowing families to pickup on behalf of their children made a tremendous difference in reducing food insecurity amongst kids during the pandemic," Weikert Bryant observed. "Particularly during the summer."

Local schools will discuss eligibility with parents and families. Additionally, free meals are available at SUN Meals sites throughout communities. Funding for the initiative is provided by the state and the U-S-D-A.

Weikert Bryant said SUN Bucks serves as a crucial lifeline, ensuring no child goes hungry during the summer months. The program reflects Indiana's commitment to fostering the well-being of Hoosier kids, ensuring they receive nutritious meals to thrive personally and academically. She described who qualifies.

"Children are eligible for the program if the household already participates in SNAP, TANF -- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families -- or income-based Medicaid," Weikert Bryant outlined. "Or if the student has been identified as a ward of the state; a foster child, homeless or migrant."

Those children will automatically receive benefits. Families who do not qualify for those programs but have children who receive free and reduced priced meals need to apply for the program. The application deadline is May 1.

By Joe Ulery, Producer

Monday, April 29, 2024