DENVER, CO – The House today passed legislation to combat child hunger by taking advantage of the federal Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Program and providing students with nutrition assistance during summer break. SB23B-002 passed by a vote of 44-16.
“For many children in Colorado, school is the only place they receive consistent meals which means they often face hunger during the summer months,” said Rep. Shannon Bird, D-Westminster. “This legislation takes full advantage of an expansion of a federal program to keep our kids fed year-round. No kid should go hungry, and we’re working together to combat child hunger and make purchasing nutritious, healthy food more affordable for families.”
“Having access to food is not a reality for all kids living in Colorado, in fact one in nine kids face hunger,” said Rep. Lorena Garcia, D-Unincorporated Adams County. “Child hunger gets worse during the summer months, and our important legislation utilizes federal funding to help hard working families put food on the table. Many families see their grocery bill skyrocket during the summer, and by leveraging federal funds we can combat child hunger so every kid has the chance to be their best.”
SB23B-002 would allocate an estimated $35 million to expand EBT benefits, which would help families purchase groceries from SNAP retailers during the summer months when child hunger is most severe. Families with children eligible for the national free and reduced-price school meals program will receive $40 a month per eligible child for the summer benefit in 2024, to be adjusted for inflation in following years.
The Summer EBT Program was established in December 2022 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, with the program beginning in the summer of 2024. By taking action now, Colorado is a national leader on this issue. Ten other states indicated to the U.S. Department of Agriculture that they intend to do so next year, which would postpone their program’s start until 2025.