Return to Headlines

Important Summer EBT Information for Southwestern Families

Beginning in 2024, New York State will launch Summer EBT, a new program that provides low-income families with food benefits to help cover the cost of groceries when school is out of session. Summer is the time when many children lose access to free meals they get at school. Most eligible children will receive Summer EBT food benefits automatically; however, some families may need to apply.


Beginning in late June 2024 and through the summer, OTDA will send a personalized communication to parents/guardians of each child who is automatically enrolled. This communication will be mailed to the current address on file and will be reinforced with an email or text message, depending on what contact information is on file at the time.

This communication will inform families about Summer EBT and the specific payment method for their child’s Summer EBT benefit. If a child’s benefit is scheduled to be issued to an existing EBT card and a replacement benefit card is needed, the letter will include specific instructions in how to request a replacement card.

For children who completed an application on or after July 1, a letter will be emailed or mailed to inform the parent/guardian of the eligibility determination, timing, and payment method for the benefit (existing EBT card or new EBT card).

To be automatically eligible for Summer EBT food benefits:

  • A child must receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and/or Temporary Assistance (cash) benefits, or be directly certified for free meals through Medicaid, OR
  • A child must be determined eligible for free/reduced price school meals by their school.

These children will receive benefits automatically and DO NOT need to apply. Most eligible children will receive their benefits this way. These families will receive a letter this summer letting them know that their child is eligible.

If your child is not automatically eligible, you must apply to receive Summer EBT benefits.
To be eligible with an application:

  • A child must attend a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), AND
  • The household's income must be at or below the income limits for eligibility for free/reduced price school meals (use “reduced price” scale for 185% federal poverty level).

Families with eligible school-age children will receive $120 in Summer EBT food benefits (per child) in 2024.

Summer EBT benefits can be used just like SNAP benefits to buy food at grocery stores, farmers markets, and other SNAP-authorized retailers.

Summer EBT food benefits will not be issued before July 2024. New York State is still working to finalize a timeline for when Summer EBT food benefits will be issued. Eligible children will receive benefits at different times, depending on whether they attend public or private school, and whether they receive benefits automatically or if they are determined eligible through an application.

Once benefits are issued, families will have 122 days from the date they are issued to use the benefits. All unused benefits expire after 122 days.

Most households do not need to apply for Summer EBT food benefits.

For those households that do need to apply, children may be eligible if they meet two criteria.

  • The child must attend a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), AND
  • The household's income must be at or below the income limits for eligibility for free/reduced price school meals (see links to Income Guidelines in “Eligibility” section above).

If your household must apply to be considered for benefits, an online application (English and Spanish) will be available by July 1, 2024, and the link and instructions will be posted on this webpage.


The most comprehensive information on Summer EBT can be found at The Summer EBT Customer Service Helpline is 1-833-452-0096. Families should seek answers to specific questions using the website before calling the helpline. The helpline will be able to answer questions about a specific child’s eligibility beginning July 1, 2024.