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State hopes summer SUN bucks will help feed low-income children while schools are closed

The extra benefit to eligible families is expected to pay for extra summer groceries.
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The extra benefit to eligible families is expected to pay for extra summer groceries.

During summers when school is out and there are no daily school lunches, some Hoosier families face difficulty providing meals for their children. A new statewide program is giving these families extra state benefits to help.

Called Indiana SUN bucks, eligible families will receive a one-time payment of $120 per school-aged child. It’s to be used to buy extra groceries that often come with summer vacation.

This money will function similarly to EBT benefits, sent on a separate benefits card directly to a family’s home, and will also have a list of approved grocery items.

“Programs like this are essential to making sure that our families and our students have food over the summer,” said Brad Meadows, Director for District and Community Engagement at Anderson Community Schools.

Children eligible for the program include:

  • Families that already get SNAP, TANF, or income-based Medicaid
  • Students who are foster children, homeless, or migrants
  • Students attending schools that offer National School Lunch Program with a household income that meets the requirements for free or reduced-price school meals

The cards will automatically be sent out to most eligible families in the coming weeks, though the state Department of Education says some parents will still need to apply.

According to the Indiana Department of Education, families that have not been automatically enrolled are advised to send in an application before May 1 to ensure that they receive their benefits.

Families will have 120 days from when they receive the cards to use the money.

Meadows hopes that the program improves from here.

“We hope that this is not the only year for the program, and that it is something that’s offered every summer, and that our families can depend on that support,” Meadows said

Schools and community sites like Anderson across the state will also host daily or weekly free lunches this summer for kids up to the age of 18. The US Department of Agriculture will have a statewide list of those sites available in early May.

Thomas Ouellette is our reporter and producer. Contact him at

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