Maryland introduces SUN Bucks to help families pay for groceries with kids out of school

02 July 2024- Governor Wes Moore today announced the launch of Maryland SUN Bucks, a new program to help families buy groceries for eligible school-aged children during the summer months. Building on the state’s existing Summer Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program, Maryland SUN Bucks will serve a record 543,000 children across the state through more than $60 million in new funding from the federal government.

“During the summer, many children lose the free and reduced-price meals they receive at school, and households may need help putting food on the table. Our administration is here to help fill that gap,” said Gov. Moore. “Tackling childhood poverty requires consistent, targeted action so all Marylanders can stay healthy as they play, grow, and learn. The launch of Maryland SUN Bucks marks one such action – and it won’t be the last.”

Maryland SUN Bucks builds upon Maryland’s existing Summer SNAP program and expands the reach six-fold. Families in all of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions are now able to receive benefits and local government matching funds are no longer required.

“There isn’t a single jurisdiction in Maryland that isn’t interested in helping fight childhood poverty. Maryland SUN Bucks extends food security provided by school meals to summertime; and it represents the single largest investment Maryland has seen to help feed our children,” said Maryland Department of Human Services Secretary Rafael López. “We are grateful for our partners in the state legislature and the Biden Administration for working with us to make sure Maryland’s children do not experience hunger.”

Households that qualify for the Maryland SUN Bucks program will receive $40 each month in June, July, and August—totaling $120—to buy food for each eligible student. Benefits may be used at authorized retailers, including grocery stores and farmers markets.

Up to 90% of eligible Maryland families will receive the benefits automatically, though some parents will need to apply. For families receiving SNAP benefits, Maryland SUN Bucks will be automatically applied to the head-of-household’s Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. If a child does not receive SNAP, a white Maryland SUN Bucks card will be issued in the child’s name.

Maryland SUN Bucks is in addition to free meals that kids of all ages can get at summer meal sites in their communities.

“For many children, schools are lifelines to regular and nutritious meals. Maryland SUN Bucks will improve access to healthy food options during the summer months,” said State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Carey M. Wright. “This innovative partnership connects families to a basic resource at a critical time.”

For more information is available at dhs.maryland.gov/sunbucks or 1-800-332-6347.