Q&A

  1. What is “summer hunger?”

    Children in America face higher rates of hunger in the summer months when school is out, simply because they no longer have access to free and reduced-price school lunch and breakfast programs. Research has shown that food insecurity and hunger are substantially higher in the summer months among U.S. households with school-age children.[1]

  2. How do you know this approach to address summer hunger will work?

    The Stop Child Summer Hunger Act would scale up a pilot program that has been rigorously evaluated and shown to dramatically reduce hunger for children in the summer months. In fact, this pilot, known as the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) for Children demonstration, has shown a decrease in very-low food insecurity, also known as hunger, among children by an incredible 33 percent.[2] The pilot, first authorized in 2010,  is based a common-sense strategy for addressing summer hunger – providing families who have children eligible for free or reduced-price school meals with an EBT card that can be used to purchase food during the summer months to replace the meals that the children would otherwise be receiving at school.  The pilot has seen positive participation numbers, with some sites having participation rates above 90 percent, and it has resulted in more healthy food intake, with children eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and dairy foods, while consuming less added sugars from sugar-sweetened beverages.[3]

  3. Who is eligible for this benefit?

    Any child who is enrolled in free or reduced-price school lunch will be eligible, meaning that tens of millions of children in America would stand to benefit.

  4. How will this program work for students in year-round schools?

    The legislation requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to include guidelines for year-round schools, and allows states to develop alternative plans that fit within these guidelines to ensure that children in schools with non-traditional schedules still have access to the program during school breaks.

  5. How would families access this benefit?

    Families who have children enrolled in free or reduced-price school meals would receive an EBT card at the end of the regular school year, which they can use at food stores during the course of the summer months.

  6. What could the benefit be used for?

    This benefit is limited to food items at already-approved food stores.

  7. When would this program begin?

    The Summer EBT for Children Program would become available in the summer of 2016.  This would provide adequate time for the USDA to finalize regulations and begin implementation, state and local entities to prepare for the implementation of the program, and for Congress to act on the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act.

  8. How much assistance will families receive during the summer months?

    As originally provided in the pilot sites, the amount of the benefit will be about $60 per month per eligible child in the household, which is comparable to the cost of free lunches plus breakfasts under the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. Since the typical summer break is about 2 ½ months, the benefit will be $150 per child in the summer of 2016.  This amount will be tied to food inflation going forward, so that families do not lose purchasing power over time, and so they can continue to ensure their kids can get enough to eat in the future.

  9. How would this program interact with other nutrition programs?

    It should be the priority of Congress to focus on fully closing the existing summer meal gap to ensure that low-income children have access to the nutritious meals they need during the summer months to enable them to return to school at the end of summer healthy and ready to learn.  No child should fall through the cracks in the safety net.  Similar to the Summer EBT for Children Pilot, this program would not specifically force families to decide between the Summer EBT program and congregate meals programs that provide additional benefits to good nutrition. The Stop Child Summer Hunger Act is intended to work in coordination with other efforts to improve nutrition programs. Any issues related to duplication can be addressed during the comprehensive reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act.

  10. Won’t the bill increase the federal deficit?

    The bill is fully paid for by closing a tax loophole that encourages U.S. companies to shift jobs and profits offshore.  Right now, a U.S. business can finance expanded overseas operations with debt, and then deduct the interest on that debt against their U.S. taxable income before they report any associated foreign income to the IRS.  This bill would generally require that companies defer deductions for interest expense attributable to foreign income until that income is subject to U.S. tax (e.g., when it is repatriated as a dividend to the U.S. parent company). 
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[1] Mark Nord & Kathleen Romig, Hunger in the Summer, Journal of Children and Poverty. 2006.

[2] Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children (SEBTC) Demonstration: Evaluation Findings for the Full Implementation Year, 2012 Final Report, U.S. Department of Agriculture. August 2013.

[3] Ibid.