DHHS News Release: DHHS Summer EBT Program Plan Approved by USDA

News Release

May 6, 2024

Collin Spilinek, 531-739-7920, collin.spilinek@nebraska.gov


DHHS Summer EBT Program Plan Approved by USDA

Lincoln – The federal Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) plan to run the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program. USDA officials commended DHHS for the several touchpoints included in the plan to ensure Nebraska families receive the services they need during summer months.

“These programs are crucial for making sure that kids in our state receive nutritious, consistent meals during the months they’re not in school,” DHHS CEO Dr. Steve Corsi said. “Our children are our future, and we need to make sure they’re taken care of.”

Eligible families will receive $120 per child for the summer period. An estimated 175,000 students, or 80,000 households, will be eligible to receive Summer EBT benefits.

“I’m thrilled to announce that Nebraska was the fourth state in the nation to be approved and the first to be approved in the Mountain Plains Region,” said Shannon Grotrian, Director of the Office of Economic Assistance (OEA). “The results of this collaboration between Governor Jim Pillen, DHHS, and the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) shows that so much passion was put into this plan to ensure that the needs of our kids are met this summer.”

Along with issuing the cards, the Summer EBT program will include multiple touchpoints of outreach throughout the following months, including:

  • Educational information on the types of nutritious foods that parents can purchase for their kids with Summer EBT cards;
  • DHHS sending text messages to families with a brief survey to help identify additional needs or resources; and
  • Trained staff following up personally to assess any other needs and determine what resources would be of benefit to families.

“USDA is pleased that Nebraska has chosen to operate Summer EBT this year,” said Cheryl Kennedy, Regional Administrator for the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). “We are impressed that the state’s plan includes a range of services to reach kids and also robust outreach to the community. This will be a great benefit to the children of Nebraska.”

In addition to DHHS utilizing Summer EBT and built-in touchpoints in its plan, NDE will also administer the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which provides no-cost meals to children ages 1 through 18 at nearly 300 locations across Nebraska. No applications or paperwork are required to receive meals from approved sites. Most SFSP sites begin providing meals during the first week of June. Text FOOD or COMIDA to 304-304 to receive information about local SFSP sites.

“NDE is excited to partner with DHHS to deliver the Summer EBT program to households of eligible students,” said Dr. Brian Maher, Commissioner of Education. “The work of dedicated NDE staff demonstrates our commitment to preparing all Nebraskans for learning, earning, and living by helping to establish the Summer EBT program to strengthen childhood nutrition security. Our partnership with DHHS will have a positive impact for students statewide.”

School-age, income-eligible children may receive Summer EBT benefits. This includes:

  1. School-age children participating in the following public assistance programs:
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
    • Aid to Dependent Children (ADC);
    • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR); or
    • Children on Medicaid with household income under 185% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
  2. School-age children who are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or School Breakfast Program (SBP) based on the following statuses:
    • Participation in Head Start;
    • Homeless;
    • Foster;
    • Migrant; or
    • Runaway
  3. School-age children who have already been approved for free or reduced-priced meals through filling out a school meals application; and
  4. School-age children enrolled in a school participating in NSLP/SBP, not already eligible, and determined income-eligible through a Summer EBT application, which will be available after June 1.

If a child meets the first three above criteria, they do not need to complete a Summer EBT application. Their benefits will be issued to a Summer EBT card and mailed to the address provided by the student’s school or maintained by DHHS for public assistance participants.

School-age homeschooled children not receiving public assistance benefits do not qualify for Summer EBT benefits, as they are not participating in an NSLP/SBP school.

Once received and activated, a Summer EBT card can be used like any other EBT card. Summer EBT benefits can be used at approved SNAP retailers such as supermarkets and grocery stores to purchase eligible food. To find a list of retailers, visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/retailer-locator.

To learn more about Summer EBT and SFSP, please visit https://dhhs.ne.gov/SummerEBT. More information on benefit issuances will be shared as implementation continues this summer.